Terps guard Greivis Vasquez (left) has the ball knocked away… (AP photo )
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Greivis Vasquez managed to smile afterward about just how close his Maryland Terrapins had come -- three times, actually -- to hitting game-winning shots that could have sent them to a victory over Wake Forest and a 2-0 start in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Maryland, playing its second game in three days, missed two potential game-winning shots in overtime and one with two seconds left in regulation and fell, 85-83, Tuesday night in a rugged contest in which the Terps out-rebounded the taller Demon Deacons.
It all seemed to unfold in slow-motion in the final moments of overtime with the Demon Deacons ahead by two points. Maryland had called a handoff play for Vasquez (30 points), who launched a 3-pointer. Sean Mosley ended up with the ball and narrowly missed off the rim.
"You want to put the ball in the hands of your best player in that situation," Maryland coach Gary Williams said, referring to Vasquez.
"I thought it was going in," said Vasquez, who seemed to hold his follow-through for an extra second in anticipation of a game-winner. "I thought we got two good looks."
Earlier, the Terps had a chance to win it in regulation after Wake Forest's Al-Farouq Aminu (24 points, 13 rebounds) hit two of three foul shots to tie the score at 76 after being fouled by Landon Milbourne.
As the clock ran down, Vasquez held the ball before dishing to Mosley, whose shot to win it was wide.
The outcome left the Terps disappointed but also proud of a gritty effort.
"Win or lose, that was a great game," Williams said. "Having said that, it really hurts not to win that. We managed to get the last shot of regulation and had a pretty good look and it didn't go down."
Last season, the Terps didn't win their first ACC road game until the second week of February. There was a sense that the team was perpetually digging itself out of an early hole. The Terps (10-5, 1-1 ACC) had entered Tuesday night's game with an opportunity to frontload an important early road win.
Despite the loss, Williams, whose team fought back from an eight-point, second-half deficit, said: "I think we're in pretty good position to go here in the ACC."
Part of his optimism resulted from UM's rebounding effort.
The challenge facing the Terps was contending with Wake Forest's size -- particularly the 6-foot-9 Aminu.
The Terps scrapped inside, sending multiple post players into the lane on offense and competing aggressively for rebounds on both ends. Maryland collected 43 rebounds (20 offensive) to Wake's 41. Mosley, a guard, had 13 rebounds.
But the aggressive style came with a cost -- foul trouble.
Dino Gregory fouled out and Jordan Williams (12 points) finished with four fouls.
Last season, Maryland picked up a significant win in the ACC tournament by packing into the lane against Aminu and his teammates, daring the Demon Deacons to hit the 3. Wake shot 3-for-25 in that game from beyond the arc.
The Demon Deacons were better Tuesday night. C.J. Harris hurt the Terps with four 3s.
But it was speedy guard Ishmael Smith who hit his team's biggest basket. With the score tied at 83, Smith drove the lane and hit a floater over Eric Hayes (eight points) to put the Demon Deacons on top for good.
Williams called Smith "the quickest guy in the league. I thought we did OK on him, but he made the big one when he had to."
Vasquez has now scored 20 or more points in the past seven games. He was averaging 6.3 assists and 5.8 rebounds in the six games before this one.
Maryland led by as many as eight in the first half. But the Demon Deacons wore the smaller Terps down.
Maryland, Miami and Duke are the only ACC schools this season scheduled to play two games in three days with the second one on the road. The Terps were the ACC's only team to open the season with a short turnaround.
"I thought overall we handled that situation pretty well," Williams said.
Milbourne 5-15 0-0 11, Williams 6-8 0-2 12, Hayes 3-4 0-0 8, Mosley 3-8 2-2 8, Vasquez 9-27 8-11 30, Bowie 2-3 5-6 10, Tucker 0-1 2-2 2, Gregory 0-2 2-2 2, Padgett 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 28-70 19-25 83.
WAKE FOREST (12-3)
Aminu 7-14 10-12 24, Weaver 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 8-23 0-0 16, Harris 6-9 2-2 18, Williams 2-6 1-2 6, Clark 1-3 3-3 5, McFarland 4-6 0-0 8, Stewart 2-7 0-0 4, Woods 2-2 0-1 4. Totals 32-70 16-20 85.
Halftime_Wake Forest 42-39. End Of Regulation_Tied 76. 3-Point Goals_Maryland 8-18 (Vasquez 4-12, Hayes 2-3, Milbourne 1-1, Bowie 1-1, Mosley 0-1), Wake Forest 5-15 (Harris 4-6, Williams 1-1, Clark 0-1, Aminu 0-2, Stewart 0-2, Smith 0-3). Fouled Out_Gregory, Williams. Rebounds_Maryland 43 (Mosley 13), Wake Forest 41 (Aminu 13). Assists_Maryland 18 (Vasquez 7), Wake Forest 12 (Smith 8). Total Fouls_Maryland 20, Wake Forest 21. A_12,925.