Terps take `big win' in 2 OTs

Maryland outlasts Virginia on road, 92-89, gets boost in drive for NCAA berth

February 20, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - When Elton Brown's desperation attempt at a game-tying three-pointer fell substantially short and the final buzzer sounded, Maryland coach Gary Williams looked up toward the scoreboard and nodded his head.

The gesture didn't speak to the magnitude of the 22nd-ranked Terrapins' 92-89, double-overtime victory over Virginia yesterday in a key Atlantic Coast Conference game at University Hall.

After the Cavaliers tied the game late in regulation and in the first overtime on long three-pointers, Terps junior John Gilchrist hit a huge three with 1:14 to play to give Maryland a 91-89 lead, and Virginia finally ran out of late-game heroics.

"When you're in these types of games, you just fight until the last buzzer sounds," said Gilchrist, who finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and six assists. "When you're competing, you don't want to lose. That's the worst feeling of all. We knew we had to leave it on the court until the last buzzer."

Now, the Terps (16-8, 7-6), who were coming off an embarrassing 19-point loss to North Carolina State on Wednesday - after which Williams questioned his team's effort and preparation - are again in good shape to make their 12th straight trip to the NCAA tournament.

Maryland plays last-place Clemson at home Tuesday, likely knowing a 1-2 finish in its last three regular-season games probably would be enough for an NCAA bid. Since 1992, 57 of 60 ACC teams that finished regular-season play with a league mark of 8-8 or better have been invited to the NCAAs.

The victory also was just the Terps' second all season on an opponent's home court.

"To say that we're not aware of what we need to do to get in the tournament, that would be ridiculous," said junior forward Nik Caner-Medley, who had 19 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. "We are aware of what we have to do. This was an extremely big win for us."

It certainly didn't come easy. It never seems to with these Terps, whose eight-point lead in the last 6 1/2 minutes of regulation disappeared altogether when Virginia's Gary Forbes hit a long three-pointer with four seconds left to force overtime.

Maryland had a seven-point lead with 1:57 left in the first overtime, but Virginia point guard Sean Singletary, who had a game-high 23 points but fouled out midway through the second overtime, tied the game on a three-pointer with 20 seconds left in the first overtime.

"We stayed tough," Williams said. "They hit a couple of great threes. ... It hurt, but we never quit. We just kept running our offense. We ran our best offense the last five minutes of regulation and both overtimes."

Maryland also had some help. The Cavaliers missed 15 of 27 free throws, including three of four in the second overtime.

Virginia senior center Brown (13 points, 12 rebounds), normally a 60 percent foul shooter, hit just three of 13. He had a chance to tie the game at 91 with 19 seconds left in the second overtime after Gilchrist's three-pointer had given the Terps a 91-89 lead, but he missed both.

Terps sophomore Ekene Ibekwe then hit one of two free throws on the other end with 13 seconds left. Without Singletary and Forbes (also fouled out) on the court, Virginia seemed confused while setting up for a game-tying try, and Brown, who hasn't hit a three-pointer all season, shot an air ball.

"As hard as we played, as courageous as we played, you've got to make free throws to win," said Cavaliers coach Pete Gillen, whose team fell to 13-11 overall and 4-9 in the ACC. "All the good things unfortunately are hurt by that [poor free-throw shooting]."

The Terps seemed to take control of the game in regulation with a 15-2 run that turned a five-point deficit into a 62-54 lead with 6:29 remaining. Maryland's advantage was still six with 2:39 to play, but Virginia strung together a regulation-ending 8-2 run, capped by Forbes' game-tying three with four seconds left.

Junior forward Travis Garrison, who had been relatively quiet, took over in the first overtime, scoring nine of his 20 points, including a three-pointer as the shot clock expired to give Maryland a 74-69 edge.

"I felt I was in a rhythm and the person who was guarding me, I could take him every time," said Garrison, who also had eight rebounds. "I just tried to carry us."

Garrison's last basket of the first overtime - with 33 seconds left - gave the Terps a three-point lead, but Singletary faked out Gilchrist at the top of the key and made a three. The Terps had 20 seconds to attempt a game-winner, but Gilchrist appeared to wait too long to start the offense and then lost the ball, forcing a second overtime.

Williams yelled at his point guard - "He kind of locked up there," he said later - and sat him down for the start of the second overtime. But Gilchrist was all smiles later after he came in and hit the huge three, which came after Caner-Medley grabbed a rebound in traffic and passed to Chris McCray, who then found an open Gilchrist.

"I knew I let my team down by not allowing us to get a shot off at the end of the OT," Gilchrist said. "I kind of felt bad about it. Just to be able to hit a big shot, that was a textbook ending."

Now comes the tough part for the Terps: trying to find some consistency.

"I thought we had some springboard wins this year, but it's been a fight," said Williams, who went with a three-guard lineup yesterday, starting Mike Jones in place of Will Bowers. It was Maryland's eighth different starting lineup this season. "We have to sustain this. Now, you don't get second chances."

Next for Maryland

Matchup: Clemson (12-13, 2-10) vs. No. 22 Maryland (16-8, 7-6)

Site: Comcast Center, College Park

When: Tuesday, 8 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)

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