Terps escape Virginia with win

No. 22 Maryland 74, Virginia 68

Vasquez's big second half helps Maryland pull away from Cavaliers

March 07, 2010|By Jeff Barker | jeff.barker@baltsun.com

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The No. 22 Maryland Terrapins can finally exhale after surviving one of those uncomfortable sorts of games that they were expected to win handily -- and almost didn't win at all.

Maryland's journey toward a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season championship included some unsettling late-game moments Saturday before the Terps held on for a 74-68 victory over reeling Virginia.

The best that can be said about the game for Maryland is that it's over. And now the Terps (23-7, 13-3 ACC), who won their seventh in a row and extended Virginia's losing streak to nine games, can savor their best regular-season conference record since the 2001-%02 season.

With the win -- aided by Virginia coach Tony Bennett tossing his jacket and receiving a critical technical foul with 38 seconds left -- Maryland earned a share of the ACC regular-season title with No. 4 Duke, which routed North Carolina, 82-50, on Saturday night.

"It wasn't about how it looked. It was just, 'Get the win,'" said Maryland coach Gary Williams, who conceded his team was probably "mentally tired" after a stretch of games that included an emotional home win over Duke and a buzzer-beating victory over Georgia Tech.

"As crazy a six-game stretch as I've ever been in," the coach said. "It was a very difficult situation for us to be in."

Maryland, the No. 2 seed, will receive a first-round bye when it opens play in the ACC tournament Friday in Greensboro, N.C. The Terps face the winner of the No. 7 vs. No. 10 game.

Maryland learned shortly before game time that Sylven Landesberg, Virginia's leading scorer at 17.3 points per game, had been suspended for the rest of the season, including the ACC tournament. Landesberg was cited for failing "to live up to his academic obligations."

"That was a hard decision," said Bennett, who is in his first year as Virginia's coach. "There are some expectations and some standards that have to be adhered to."

Maryland has struggled in recent seasons at John Paul Jones Arena, losing the past three games. So the Terps couldn't be blamed for a feeling of discomfort as Virginia erased almost all of a 14-point Maryland lead.

"It was going to be difficult because we've never won in here," said Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez, who missed his first five shots of the second half before hitting three 3-pointers in the final seven minutes. "They almost got us. They almost got us crying."

The Cavaliers (14-15, 5-11) trailed only 66-65 after a layup by Will Sherrill with 1:39 remaining. The orange-clad crowd -- which had been relatively quiet as the Terps rolled to a 34-20 first-half lead -- turned up the volume.

With 38 seconds left, Maryland guard Sean Mosley (St. Frances) collided in the lane with senior center Jerome Meyinsse, who was playing his last home game.

Meyinsse went down and was called for a blocking foul. Bennett almost immediately peeled off his jacket, leading to a technical foul on the Virginia bench.

Vasquez volunteered to shoot the free throws. "Oh, definitely. God put me in that situation right there. I was like, 'Now I have to win this game,'" Vasquez said.

Vasquez's free throws put Maryland ahead 68-65. Mosley immediately hit two more, giving the Terps a five-point lead.

"Heck of a time to get the first technical of my career," Bennett said afterward.

Bennett didn't directly criticize the officials for calling a technical at such a critical juncture. But the coach said it wasn't only Virginia's bench that was displaying plenty of emotion.

"It was a mistake to take my jacket off and throw it down -- heat of the battle," Bennett said. "Those kids battled hard. I wish they would have had a chance [at the end]. It's a tough one to swallow because there was a lot of emotion on both benches."

Maryland won largely because it was aggressive on the boards. The Terps had 22 second-chance points compared with Virginia's two. Maryland converted 20 of 26 free throws, while the Cavaliers were %7-for-8.

At the end, the Terps seemed more relieved than happy.

"You have to give Virginia a lot of credit, losing Landesberg like they did," Williams said.

"Anytime you're on the road and a team hangs around like that, they've got a chance."


MARYLAND (23-7)

Milbourne 1-7 3-6 5, Williams 3-8 1-2 7, Hayes 4-7 2-2 11, Mosley 1-3 8-8 10, Vasquez 7-18 4-4 23, Bowie 3-3 0-0 8, Tucker 2-4 1-2 5, Gregory 2-5 1-2 5. Totals 23-55 20-26 74.

VIRGINIA (14-15)

Scott 1-3 0-0 2, Tat 0-0 0-0 0, Meyinsse 7-8 3-4 17, Farrakhan 4-9 0-0 8, Baker 0-3 0-0 0, Evans 1-3 0-0 2, Sene 0-0 0-0 0, Zeglinski 5-11 0-0 14, Sherrill 4-5 0-0 9, Jones 4-7 4-4 16. Totals 26-49 7-8 68.

Halftime_Maryland 38-27. 3-Point Goals_Maryland 8-18 (Vasquez 5-11, Bowie 2-2, Hayes 1-3, Milbourne 0-1, Tucker 0-1), Virginia 9-20 (Jones 4-6, Zeglinski 4-8, Sherrill 1-2, Farrakhan 0-4). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Maryland 35 (Milbourne 7), Virginia 21 (Zeglinski 6). Assists_Maryland 14 (Hayes, Vasquez 5), Virginia 18 (Evans, Farrakhan 5). Total Fouls_Maryland 14, Virginia 18. Technical_Virginia Bench. A_13,431.

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