UM takes another tumble vs. 'Pack

No. 22 Terps lose, 82-63, fail to build on Duke win, leave Williams frustrated

Coach: `My teams aren't like this'

College Basketball

February 17, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

RALEIGH, N.C. - Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams has accepted the blame for Terrapin losses this season and deflected the credit toward his team for several big wins.

But last night, after the 22nd-ranked Terps were dominated by North Carolina State, 82-63, at the RBC Center, Williams challenged and questioned the Terps, admitting that he is "frustrated" by their inconsistent and often uninspired play.

Asked to explain another subpar effort that came after an emotional victory over No. 7 Duke on Saturday night, Williams didn't mince words.

"Ask the players," he said. "This is on the players. I worked hard to get ready for this game. You ask the players why they weren't ready to play. ... It's very frustrating. My teams aren't like this. They play hard every night. I'm very frustrated."

Last night, looking for their first three-game Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season winning streak in two seasons, the Terps fell behind by as many as 20 points in the first half and never recovered.

They struggled to challenge shooters defensively, didn't shoot well offensively and were outhustled and outplayed by a more desperate team.

"They played hard," Williams said of the Wolfpack. "They deserved to win. We came in here feeling pretty good about ourselves and they made us pay for it. With four games left this season, we have to accept the responsibility. We get a win like that against Duke and you have to use that to springboard into the next game and we didn't do that. We didn't play hard enough."

The loss dropped the Terps (15-8, 6-6), who head to Virginia on Saturday, into a fourth-place tie with Miami in the ACC. They are still in solid position to capture a 12th straight NCAA tournament bid, despite not having proved that they can beat an opponent not named Duke on its home court.

The Terps' record against league foes away from Comcast Center dropped to 1-5, and last night's loss came at a place where Maryland had won four straight. The Wolfpack, which needs a strong late-season run to have a shot at the NCAA tournament, improved to 15-10 overall and 5-7 in the ACC and completed their first series sweep of the Terps since the 1988-89 season.

"When you go on the road, you have to play better than the other team," said Terps junior forward Nik Caner-Medley, who had a game-high 19 points but just two points and no field goals in the second half. "We obviously didn't do that."

John Gilchrist, who nearly had a triple double against Duke, shot 1-for-6, scored seven points and didn't have a second-half field goal. Ekene Ibekwe was 1-for-8 and Travis Garrison 4-for-10 from the field.

"It was a combination of a lot of things," Gilchrist said. "Obviously coming out, we didn't have the same intensity. Sometimes coming off an emotional win, it's kind of draining, but you can't use that as an excuse."

N.C. State, which hit 12 three pointers in a 16-point win in College Park last month, made 13 last night and seemingly hit one to thwart every Maryland run. The Wolfpack had assists on 22 of their 25 field goals and shot 19-for-21 from the foul line.

Ilian Evtimov and Tony Bethel led the Wolfpack with 17 points each and shot a combined 8-for-14 from three-point range. Point guard Engin Atsur scored 14 and Julius Hodge had 13 points to go along with nine assists and seven rebounds.

"We were hitting on all cylinders," said Wolfpack coach Herb Sendek.

The Terps, who trailed by 26 at halftime when the teams met last month, were behind by 14 at intermission this time.

Williams tried everything. He switched to a zone defense, inserted little-used senior Mike Grinnon and even picked up his second technical of the season, while the Wolfpack were in the midst of a 25-4 spurt.

The zone did slow the Wolfpack, as Maryland cut its deficit to 10 about three minutes into the second half only to watch Evtimov drill two three-pointers to help expand the Wolfpack's lead to 58-41.

Consecutive three-point plays by James Gist and Garrison then cut N.C. State's lead to 63-56 with just over seven minutes remaining and the Maryland bench came alive.

But then Atsur got free from Gilchrist for a layup and Bethel hit a three-pointer to give North Carolina State a 68-56 lead with 5:14 to play. Jordan Collins then nailed a three to put his team up 71-56 and essentially put Maryland away with 3:44 to play.

That gave Williams plenty of time to think about all that went wrong.

"That's been our pattern - a good win, a bad loss," he said. "Players have to do it. I've coached a long time. I know what it takes to do it. The people that play have to get it done. It's as simple as that."

Williams added some levity to the situation by saying he'd like to play, but "my eligibility ran out about 35 years ago." He then turned serious again when asked to evaluate his team.

"On nights, we're really good. On nights, we are really bad," he said. "We've proven that. We're in the middle of February. This might be our personality. I've tried. I've worked as hard this year as any year I've coached at Maryland. ... Maybe, I'm missing something. I know when I can't sleep tonight, I'll be thinking about it."

Next for Maryland

Matchup: No. 22 Maryland (15-8, 6-6) vs. Virginia (13-10, 4-8)

Site: University Hall, Charlottesville, Va.

When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 13, 9/WBAL (1090 AM)

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