Jordan Williams (left) and Dino Gregory reacts after the Terps'… (Baltimore Sun photo by Karl…)
COLLEGE PARK — - The snow-covered campus was closed, and navigating area roads was dicey.
But for Maryland students and their hot-shooting basketball team, Comcast Center turned out to be the perfect place - and North Carolina the perfect victim - to spend a frigid Sunday afternoon.
Playing in front of an even more boisterous crowd than usual, the Terps (16-6, 6-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) continued their home-court success against conference foes by routing the Tar Heels, 92-71.
Maryland has won its four ACC games here by an average of 19 points.
The frenzied crowd included several thousand students who did not have tickets but lined up in the cold and were allowed in to fill the void left by fans who couldn't drive to the game because of treacherous roads.
The red-clad students - perhaps releasing pent-up energy from waiting out the snowstorm - did The Wave and chanted "NIT" at the Tar Heels, (13-10, 2-6) who have lost six of seven games.
"Loudest I've ever seen it since I was here," said senior guard Greivis Vasquez, who had 26 points and seemed to perpetually be finding open teammates with passes on Maryland fast breaks. He had 11 assists.
Maryland coach Gary Williams spoke in a halting voice afterward about the unusual preparations required because of the storm. Interviewed by Terps radio broadcaster Johnny Holliday, Williams choked up after saying, "I was really proud of the guys ..."
The team returned home Friday from a late game at Florida State, and Williams spent the night near campus because he feared he could get stranded if he ventured home through the snow. The campus was closed all weekend, but the game was played because the Tar Heels and the officials arrived ahead of the storm Friday.
"You're proud of the guys when they make the effort in a little different situation," Williams said.
The coach said "it was amazing" how many fans made it to the game. The arena was mostly full. "If they had to take a dogsled, they were coming to the game. That's a great feeling. It really is," Williams said.
Maryland was led by its senior guards, Vasquez and Eric Hayes. Hayes shot 5-for-6 and finished with 16 points.
Overall, Maryland, which leads the ACC in field-goal percentage, made its first five 3-point attempts and 12 of 23 overall.
Maryland was able to frequently get out and run against North Carolina and its large front court. The Terps had 22 fast-break points to North Carolina's six.
"Obviously we're a lot more comfortable when we're playing like we did today - running up and down the floor," Hayes said.
Said Vasquez: "That's my game. I love the running."
The Terps led by as many 16 points in the first half. North Carolina, behind Marcus Ginyard (17 points), twice cut the margin to three points, the second time at 54-51 on a jumper by Will Graves.
But Vasquez immediately hit a layup and Maryland pulled away. The Maryland fans were treated to a monster dunk by Dino Gregory to push the lead to 70-56 and another by Sean Mosley to make it 92-67.
"We weren't doing a good job of getting back" on defense, Ginyard said.
The Terps have now defeated the Tar Heels four times in the past five games. Maryland's overtime win over the soon-to-be national champions last season was a highlight of the season.