Terps execute rescue plan

Vasquez ties it, then UM pulls away in OT for Williams' 400th

November 22, 2008|By Don Markus | Don Markus,don.markus@baltsun.com

COLLEGE PARK - This could have been a game that chipped away at Maryland's collective confidence and fractured its fragile psyche. Instead, Maryland turned a potentially deflating loss into a demonstrative, 89-74 overtime victory over Vermont last night at Comcast Center.

After junior guard Greivis Vasquez sent the game into overtime with a three-point shot with less than seven seconds to go, the Terps scored the first 17 points in overtime as the Catamounts, so deadly with their shooting during regulation, went into a catatonic state.

Vasquez and sophomore guard Adrian Bowie took control in overtime. Vasquez had seven of his 26 points in overtime, while Bowie scored six of his career-high 17 in the extra period. The victory, the 400th at Maryland for coach Gary Williams, was certainly one of his more interesting.

"In any good season, there is a win like that somewhere along the line when it seems like there's no chance to win, and then you win. It's a good feeling," said Williams, who was given the game ball by Vasquez. "It kind of cements the idea that if you work hard enough, good things happen. We had to work really hard because things weren't going really well for us."

Getting off to its best start in a game this season, Maryland (3-0) twice built nine-point leads in the first half, but Vermont's zone defense and the Terps' zoning out a little bit shrank the lead to 37-35 by halftime. The stupor continued into the second half.

"I just questioned our pride defensively," Williams said of what he told his team at halftime. "We were playing man-to-man in terms of technique the way we wanted to, but our effort wasn't as good against a team like Vermont. You have to go harder."

It took a while for the message to sink in and the desperation to take over.

After the Catamounts built their lead to 55-47 with a little more than 10 1/2 minutes to go, Maryland climbed back despite losing its only inside threat, junior forward Landon Milbourne, who fouled out with 2:15 to go after picking up his fourth and fifth personals within a span of 25 seconds.

Trailing 71-66, the Terps turned to unusual source for offense - backup center Dave Neal. The burly senior hit his second three-point shot of the second half with 1:44 remaining in regulation. After Marqus Blakely made one of two free throws with 17 seconds to go, Williams called timeout to set up the final shot.

Running a play designed to go to one of three players - Vasquez, junior guard Eric Hayes or freshman Jin Soo Kim - Bowie found Vasquez coming around a screen in the corner. Vasquez's fallaway three found the net. A running jumper at the foul line by Vermont's Nick Vier bounced off the back rim.

Asked about his three-point shot to send the game into overtime, Vasquez said: "I said, 'They are either going to love me or they are going to hate me, I don't really care. The play was to hit Eric, but I told him [Bowie] they were overplaying Eric, so hit me. I'm taking the shot. ... It went perfect."

Maryland was a different team in overtime, but so was Vermont (1-2). Losing their second overtime game of the season, the Catamounts missed their first seven shots in overtime, five of them three-pointers. Forward Blakely, who dominated inside with 23 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots, finally made a basket with 22 seconds left.

"It gives us more confidence," Bowie said. "People have been doubting us since the season started, so it just gives us extra confidence and makes us more of a team."

play it again

NO. 400

With the victory, Gary Williams became the third Atlantic Coast Conference coach to win 400 games at the same school, following the legendary Dean Smith of North Carolina and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski.

NEAL'S THREES

Backup center Dave Neal hit a pair of three-point shots during Maryland's second-half comeback, finishing with 10 points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes. Neal also played some tough defense against Vermont's Marqus Blakely.

DUPREE'S BENCHING

Sophomore center Braxton Dupree played five minutes in the first half and three minutes in the second half. Despite two blocks, the former Calvert Hall standout probably played his way out of the starting lineup.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

Maryland (3-0) has off until playing No. 5 Michigan State in the opening round of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla., Thanksgiving night.

Don Markus

MARYLAND (3-0) VS. MICHIGAN STATE (2-0)

Thursday, 7 p.m., Orlando, Fla.

TV: ESPN2

Radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM

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