Terps fall hard against Fla. State

Thornton's 27 help 'Noles pull away

Florida State 71 Maryland 60

February 23, 2006|By HEATHER A. DINICH | HEATHER A. DINICH,SUN REPORTER

TALLAHASSEE, FLA — TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Before Maryland guard D.J. Strawberry could even blink, Florida State guard and Baltimore native Todd Galloway snatched the ball out his hands and fed a crisp pass to Al Thornton for an uncontested dunk last night.

And so went the game.

Not only did Florida State steal the game from the Terps with its 71-60 win at the Donald L. Tucker Center, but the Seminoles also knocked Maryland ( 16-10, 6-7) below .500 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and into eighth place in the league.

The Seminoles ( 17-7, 7-6) have won five consecutive home games and improved to 12-2 here this season.

Both teams entered with 6-6 conference records and slim hopes of a bid to the NCAA tournament, but Maryland got into foul trouble early, shot the ball poorly and missed yet another opportunity at a conference road win.

Only three games remain in the regular season, and the Terps will travel to North Carolina on Sunday to face the 21st-ranked Tar Heels. Maryland lost to North Carolina, 77-62, earlier this month at Comcast Center.

Nik Caner-Medley scored 19 points and Ekene Ibekwe added 15 last night for the Terps, who shot 40.7 percent and committed 18 turnovers.

The Terps came out of the locker room after halftime with a burst of offense, making three baskets in the first three minutes, but Thornton helped swing the momentum in favor of the Seminoles.

The 6-foot-7 junior scored six points in an 8-2 run that gave the Seminoles a 13-point lead. His dunk off Galloway's assist gave Florida State a 46-33 lead with 15:30 remaining.

Thornton, the Seminoles' leading scorer with an average of 16.1 points, finished with a double double last night, as he had 27 points and 12 rebounds.

It was the three-point shot, though, that again seemed to seal the Terps' fate. With 13:37 left, sophomore guard Isaiah Swann, a native of Gaithersburg, made a three that put his team ahead 49-35. It was the Seminoles' seventh of the game.

With 10:47 left, Florida State had built a 20-point lead, scoring 19 of its points off Maryland's turnovers.

Swann and Galloway combined for 16 points. Galloway (City) is one of the Seminoles' top defensive players, as he entered yesterday's game with a single-season career-high 45 steals.

Maryland scored the first three points of the game, but quickly fell behind and trailed the rest of the way.

The problems that have hampered the Terps all season continued, as Maryland finished the first half with more turnovers (nine) than field goals (eight).

The Terps also have struggled to consistently defend the perimeter, and Florida State took advantage of that early, scoring six of its 11 first-half field goals from three-point range. Coming into the game, Maryland had allowed at least nine three-pointers in 11 of the past 14 games.

Florida State used an 11-3 run to take a 34-21 lead with 5:42 remaining in the first half. The 13-point deficit was the Terps' largest of the half, and they trailed 37-27 at the break.

Maryland was held to 30.8 percent shooting in the first half, and made just four baskets in the first eight minutes of the game. Not all of that, though, was because of the Seminoles' defense. There were errant passes, like when guard Sterling Ledbetter threw one away, then asked Caner-Medley why he wasn't there.

Maryland guard Mike Jones picked up his third foul just as Swann was attempting a three-point shot from in front of the Terps' bench. Just 13 seconds later, Ibekwe was charged with his third foul as well.

heather.dinich@baltsun.com

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