Terps out in a rout

1st-half woes doom UM

NCAA hopes take a hit

Acc Tournament

March 11, 2006|By HEATHER A. DINICH | HEATHER A. DINICH,SUN REPORTER

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- This was it, the final chance for Maryland to prove to the NCAA tournament selection committee that it could beat one of the top teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference without its former leading scorer.

On the night when it mattered most, though - on the ACC's grandest stage - the Terps couldn't even hang with one of those teams and were embarrassed, 80-66, by 11th-ranked Boston College last night in the ACC tournament quarterfinals.

The No. 3-seeded Eagles (25-6), hungry for redemption after a regular-season loss to Maryland (19-12), brought their league-leading scoring defense and a little attitude, jumping out to a 19-2 lead before ending the Terps' hopes at the Greensboro Coliseum.

"After last night, it was disappointing to come out and play like we did," said coach Gary Williams, referring to the sixth-seeded Terps' first-round win over Georgia Tech. "We really didn't give ourselves a chance to see if we could be in a competitive situation in that first half."

Maryland had won three straight before last night, but those victories came against Miami, Virginia and Georgia Tech, respectively - none of whom had a winning conference record in the regular season.

The Terps will return to College Park today and can't do anything but wait until tomorrow's NCAA field of 65 is revealed to know if they were deemed worthy of an at-large bid. Many experts believed Maryland needed a win last night to earn one.

The one thing this team wanted to do this season was avoid a second straight appearance in the National Invitation Tournament. As of last night, the Terps were No. 46 in the Rating Percentage Index on collegerpi.com. The Terps were 5-5 in their final 10 games and had an 8-8 regular-season record in the ACC.

"I hope that's good enough, but it's a very difficult situation this year," Williams said. "We're going to be just like everybody else; we're going to wait and see what happens on Sunday. That's all we can do."

The Terps' resume includes a Dec. 11 victory over Boston College, which was ranked sixth at the time, but Maryland won that game with senior guard Chris McCray, who was later declared academically ineligible.

"We've battled some things this year we haven't had to battle in the past at Maryland," Williams said. "We came through it pretty tough. We've done some good things this year."

There's no question the selection committee will consider Maryland's season in two halves - before and after McCray. They were 6-8 without him, including last night.

"They're definitely a totally different team without McCray," said Boston College forward Jared Dudley, who scored 18 points.

With 13:05 left in the game and Maryland trailing 55-35, junior guard D.J. Strawberry grumbled as he missed his first free throw.

"Shut up," Williams said. "Make it."

He missed again.

Shortly after, a timeout was called and the sound of Williams throwing a clipboard on the floor was easily heard in the two-thirds-empty arena. With about 12 minutes left to play, former Terp Keith Gatlin was interviewed by a TV reporter on the sideline and declared the game over.

Boston College had a 24-point lead with 12:32 left.

A few minutes earlier, Terps senior forward Nik Caner-Medley was clutching his right shin and appeared to be injured after coming down on a rebound attempt.

He was taken to the training room, but eventually returned with a brace. Williams said Caner-Medley sprained his ankle but had told the coach that he could return to the court if needed.

The Terps never got closer than 14 points, though, so he stayed on the bench.

It wasn't necessarily that the Terps lost last night, Williams said, it was the way they lost. Williams had his suit jacket off five minutes into the game, and the expletives were flying as his team quickly fell behind 19-2.

It didn't help that four players accumulated at least two fouls each in the first half.

"Right now, obviously, you're really disappointed about how we played," Williams said after the game. "I've lost games before and obviously I'll lose some more, but I don't like losing when we don't put our best show out there, so that hurts a little bit."

Boston College opened the game with a 22-4 run and controlled the first half, leading by as many as 21 points with nine minutes remaining. The Terps didn't even make their second field goal until the 13:03 mark and finished the first half just 7-for-29 from the field.

Maryland also reverted to its poor perimeter defense, allowing Boston College five three-pointers in the first half. Maryland matched its season-low first-half point total, shooting 24.1 percent en route to a 41-22 deficit.

The Terps' first-half output was their lowest in an ACC tournament game since 1989.

heather.dinich@baltsun.com

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