GREENSBORO, N.C. — Maryland might look back one day and find that its 69-64 loss to Georgia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament didn't mean much in terms of the Terrapins' ultimate goal of making a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
But the loss sure stung the Terps on Friday night.
It was a trying defeat because of the success that No. 19 Maryland (23-8) had during the regular season, winning its last seven games and raising fans' expectations. It was made all the more dispiriting because the Terps - using frenetic, full-court defense - erased all but one basket of a 19-point deficit.
Maryland's 16 steals fell one short of the tournament record set by Wake Forest in 1984. The second-seeded Terps forced 25 Georgia Tech turnovers.
But in the last five minutes, it seemed the Terps were perpetually taking shots to try to tie the score and coming up short. Or deep. Or wide. Everything but in the basket.
"We had a bunch of chances," said Maryland senior guard Eric Hayes (14 points).
The quarterfinal loss ended Maryland's hopes for its first ACC tournament title since 2004.
The Terps were also playing for NCAA seeding. Entering Friday night's game, prognosticators placed Maryland anywhere from a No. 2 seed to a No. 6 seed.
Georgia Tech will play 11th seed North Carolina State, a 58-52 winner over third seed Florida State on Friday.
Maryland had defeated Georgia Tech, 76-74, on Feb. 20. The video screen at halftime replayed Cliff Tucker's buzzer-beater that had won that game for Maryland.
Asked how motivated he and his teammates were after the game in College Park, Georgia Tech forward Gani Lawal said: "We were very motivated. We felt like that was a fluke shot, I don't care what anybody says."
The Yellow Jackets led by 19 in a first half that ended 41-25. At the half, Georgia Tech was shooting 6-for-8 on 3-point attempts and 61.5 percent overall.
Maryland had to be wondering: Where was the Yellow Jackets team that shot 43 percent against North Carolina on Thursday?
"We weren't ready emotionally," Maryland coach Gary Williams said.
But Maryland made a second-half run led by the two elements that have fueled Terps runs all season - Greivis Vasquez and team defense.
"They had an aggressive trap going," Georgia Tech's Iman Shumpert said.
Trailing 62-59, Vasquez (17 points on 6-for-21 shooting) rattled a 3-pointer in and out. After Lawal missed two free throws, Hayes missed another 3 that could have tied the score.
Maryland's last realistic chance came when Shumpert stripped Vasquez as he was setting up to shoot with Maryland trailing 67-64 with five seconds left. Vasquez seemed to protest that he was fouled. He was called for an intentional foul on the other end. Georgia Tech sealed the game with two foul shots.
Said Vasquez: "He fouled me, but we're not the referees. We needed a 3; I should have maybe drove. I have been making tough shots."
Another judgment call came when Georgia Tech's Maurice Miller missed a shot that Derrick Favors followed with a slam to put the Yellow Jackets up 64-59 with 1:14 left. Maryland questioned whether the shot clock expired before the dunk.
Williams asked the officials to check the replay monitor. But referee Karl Hess told the media after the game that the play is "a judgment call, and it is not reviewable."
The Terps will return to College Park and await Sunday's selection show to learn their NCAA seeding and destination.
"I'm very proud of our team this year," Williams said. "I think the second half typifies the type of people that are playing for us this year."