Road show

Win improves UM's NCAA chances

March 02, 2009|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,jeff.barker@baltsun.com

Raleigh, N.C. - Entering last night's game, Maryland had a potentially damaging gap in its NCAA tournament resume.

The Terrapins, who have beaten potent North Carolina and Michigan State, had only one road victory in six tries in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Last night, Maryland made amends, burnishing its postseason credentials with a 71-60 win over North Carolina State at the RBC Center.

"I told [teammates] before halftime, 'If we lose this game, it's pretty much over,' " said forward Dave Neal, Maryland's only senior. "That was a huge win for us. Now we're back in the talk of being in the NCAA tournament."

Greivis Vasquez had 33 points for the Terps, two shy of his career high.

Maryland, which led by nine points in the first half, lost the lead in the second. Tracy Smith's jump hook and foul shot gave the Wolfpack a 49-47 lead with 9:15 remaining.

But Maryland (18-10, 7-7) came back. The Terps took a 64-56 lead on a jumper by Cliff Tucker to beat the shot clock. The Wolfpack cut the margin to 64-60 before Vasquez's final five points, including a three-pointer with one second left.

"We can do something special this year," said Vasquez, who appeared to taunt the Wolfpack fans at the end. "It's nothing personal," he said. "I was into the game. Nothing against the fans."

The Terps were led all night by Vasquez, who - two games after a triple double and a career-high 35 points against North Carolina - seemed determined not to let Maryland down. He fouled out in the previous game, against Duke, after playing 22 minutes. He played a team-leading 38 minutes last night.

"Greivis Vasquez had a great game with his scoring and his shooting, but at the same time he's a tough guy," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "I think Greivis really does not like to lose."

Vasquez often drove the lane against the Wolfpack, scoring on layups and floaters. He also had five assists.

After emotional games against North Carolina and Duke, Williams said he was monitoring the length of practices to make sure the team wasn't overtaxed.

It must have worked because the undersized Terps came out with the type of energy that they need to win games.

Maryland ran whenever possible - often after steals. In the half court, Maryland drove the lane and often kicked the ball back out to Neal or others for open three-pointers.

Maryland has one day to get ready for a game against Wake Forest tomorrow night that Vasquez said "is our biggest game of the season to me."

Williams said he doesn't know how many wins will be required to make the NCAA tournament but last night's sure helped the cause.

"We had 19 [wins] a couple years, and I thought we were good enough," the coach said. "I don't think there are guarantees of anything anymore."

Maryland built a nine-point lead in the first half on defense and Vasquez's shooting.

Leading 22-18, the Terps forced a shot-clock violation, then forced a deep three-point attempt with the clock winding down on the next possession.

Eric Hayes followed with a three to make it 25-18. A three by Vasquez moments later made it 28-19.

N.C. State cut the deficit to 34-33 at the half.

NO. 13 WAKE FOREST (22-5, 9-5) @ MARYLAND (18-10, 7-7)

Tomorrow, 7:30

TV: Comcast SportsNet-Plus

Radio: 1300 AM, 105.7 FM

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