RALEIGH, N.C. — - Maryland had all kinds of excuses to lose to North Carolina State on Wednesday night at RBC Center.
Playing their third game in five days, the Terps might have claimed fatigue. Having not lost to N.C. State in six games, they might have claimed the odds were with the Wolfpack - as woeful as they've been - to finally break that losing streak.
But Maryland is proving to be a team that doesn't make excuses - the Terps just win games. With a second-half comeback from a 12-point deficit, Maryland won easily, 67-58, to reclaim second place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Led by senior guard Greivis Vasquez, who finished with a game-high 26 points and six assists, and freshman center Jordan Williams, who had a career-high 19 points and 11 rebounds, the Terps closed on a 31-12 run.
It was the eighth win in the past 10 games for Maryland (18-7, 8-3 ACC), coming only two nights after the Terps crushed Virginia at Comcast Center. It was the fifth straight loss for N.C. State (14-13, 2-10). Dennis Horner led the Wolfpack with 19 points.
Asked whether his team had any weariness after a rigorous stretch that began with a 21-point loss Saturday at Duke, Maryland coach Gary Williams said: "I'm sure. We had to play ourselves out of it. I was really worried when we closed that lead a little bit in the second half. I thought we were in trouble right there."
Trailing by 10 at halftime and by 12 early in the second half, Maryland cut its deficit to one, 46-45, on a 3 by reserve guard Adrian Bowie. The Wolfpack seemed to turn the momentum back in its favor and built the lead back to 51-45 on Horner's 3.
But the Terps kept coming.
"We were a little flat, and I just wanted to help the team," Bowie said.
Despite tired legs, the Terps turned up the defensive pressure with their press and eventually wore down N.C. State, which hadn't played since a loss to North Carolina on Saturday. The Wolfpack had only three field goals in the last 15 minutes.
Once Vasquez's 3-point shot with 8:21 remaining gave Maryland the lead at 53-51, the Terps never relinquished it.
"We are resilient," said Williams, whose team is now off until it hosts Georgia Tech on Saturday. "To lose like we did at Duke, then come back and win and then travel 12 hours later is tough. But you have to accept that the schedule's not going to be the way you'd like it to be. Our seniors really helped down the stretch."
It looked as if the schedule was going to catch up with the Terps. After scoring on eight of its first 13 possessions to take an early 17-15 lead, Maryland finished the first half 11-for-33 from the field. Eric Hayes had missed all four shots he had taken, including a pair of 3-pointers.
For the second time this season against N.C. State, Jordan Williams outplayed his more experienced, more highly regarded counterpart. After containing Tracy Smith in the first half last month at Comcast Center, Williams held the ACC's leader in shooting percentage to 3-for-8 shooting for 10 points. Williams hit 7-for-10 from the field and after missing his first two free throws, 5-for-8 from the line.
"Jordan Williams is just getting started," Gary Williams said. "He's going to be good."
And then there was Vasquez. After having more turnovers (four) than assists (three) in the first half, Vasquez was under control in the second half and - as he has been recently - in control of the game. He didn't have a single turnover in the second half.
By game's end, he was also in total control of his emotions. Unlike last year's game here, Vasquez had no thoughts of shooting a meaningless 3 in the waning seconds just to quiet a taunting crowd that moments before had serenaded him with chants of "USA, USA."
"I'm just trying to win the game," Vasquez said.
MARYLAND-Milbourne 4-11 0-0 8, Hayes 0-5 0-1 0, Mosley 1-6 2-2 4, Williams 7-10 5-8 19, Vasquez 9-17 5-7 26, Bowie 3-5 0-0 8, Tucker 0-2 0-0 0, Gregory 1-2 0-1 2, Padgett 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-58 12-19 67.N.C. STATE-Gonzalez 0-5 0-0 0, Degand 4-12 0-0 9, Wood 4-7 1-1 9, T.Smith 3-8 4-4 10, Horner 7-13 3-3 19, Painter 1-4 0-0 2, Vandenberg 1-2 0-2 2, Williams 0-4 0-0 0, Davis 2-3 0-0 4, Mays 1-8 0-0 3. Totals 23-66 8-10 58.Halftime-N.C. State 37-27. 3-point goals-Maryland 5-13 (Vasquez 3-7, Bowie 2-2, Tucker 0-1, Hayes 0-3), N.C. State 4-16 (Horner 2-3, Degand 1-4, Mays 1-4, Gonzalez 0-2, Wood 0-3). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Maryland 39 (Williams 11), N.C. State 41 (Horner 10). Assists-Maryland 13 (Vasquez 6), N.C. State 10 (T.Smith 3). Total fouls-Maryland 14, N.C. State 17. A-14,288.