Terps fail first ACC test with loss to Boston College

Williams' career-high 27 points, plus 13 rebounds, not enough as Maryland falls in conference opener

  • Maryland guard Terrell Stoglin splits the defense of Boston College's Corey Raji, left, and Danny Rubin in the second half.
Maryland guard Terrell Stoglin splits the defense of Boston… (AP photo )
December 12, 2010|By Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK — — Like so many Atlantic Coast Conference games, this one came down to its frenetic end — to those final minutes when the crowd is loudest and every basket and defensive stop is magnified.

These are the moments — when reputations are made — that Maryland owned at Comcast Center last season. Led by three talented seniors, the Terps went undefeated in ACC games at home.

But on Sunday, everything seemed to be reversed. Maryland missed critical shots and free throws at the end, and a more experienced Boston College team prevailed, 79-75, in both teams' first ACC contest of the season.

Maryland's 15-game home winning streak was snapped. So was a 27-game streak in which the Terps (7-4) had not lost when leading at halftime.

It was telling that a freshman took the critical shot for the Terps.

With the Terps trailing 78-75, Maryland guard Terrell Stoglin (14 points on 6 of 17 shooting) missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 17 seconds remaining.

Boston College's Corey Raji — whose earlier 3-pointer with 38 seconds left had snapped a 75-75 tie — got the rebound and made a free throw for the final margin.

Maryland coach Gary Williams said he had no problem with Stoglin taking the critical shot. Williams had showed his trust in the freshman by leaving him on the floor at the end along with three seniors and sophomore center Jordan Williams.

"Terrell tries to win — just like when Greivis [Vasquez] was a freshman," the coach said. "He's trying to win the game."

Last year, the ball would probably have been in the hands of Vasquez, the leader of a talented senior class who is now with the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies. "Last year we had situation where we had a player [Vasquez] that could score even when the offense broke down," Gary Williams said. "We have to do it a little bit differently this year, but that's OK. There's lots of ways to get it done. We're a pretty good team when we execute as well as we can."

The Eagles (8-2) won despite a career-high 27 from Jordan Williams, who also had 13 rebounds. Maryland co-captain Dino Gregory matched his career high with 14 points. He made his first five field-goal attempts of the game. Gregory gave the Terps a critical second inside option — making it more difficult for the Eagles to double-team Williams in the low post. "My teammates were finding me. Adrian [Bowie] found me a few times," Gregory said. "If they double team [Williams], I'm wide open."

Boston College has four returning starters compared to Maryland's two. "A lot more experienced than us," Gary Williams said.

There were 16 lead changes in the game.

The Eagles won by shooting 7-for-12 on 3-pointers in the second half — a period when Maryland often relies on its aggressive defense to wear opponents down. They made 13 in the game. "They did a great job finding the open man. Anytime they were open they basically hit a 3," said Jordan Williams, who said he kept thinking to himself "not again" every time the Eagles connected from beyond the arc.

Boston College often created matchup problems by playing four guards — a tactic the Terps sometimes employed last season.

The Eagles also took advantage of Maryland not getting back quickly enough on defense. "I mean [Maryland] ran a really nice press," Boston College guard Biko Paris (22 points, including six 3-pointers) said. "But they were slow getting back on defense so we had a lot of wide-open shots."

The Terps missed three critical free throws in the final moments — one by Stoglin and two by Cliff Tucker. Tucker, a senior, missed a pair with Maryland leading 75-73 and 1:47 left.

It was a difficult game for Tucker, whose grandparents — Levet Brown Jr. and Willie Mae Brown — not only attended the game but performed an exhibition of swing dancing for the crowd at halftime.

Tucker scored six points on 2-for-10 shooting, including 1-for-7 on 3-point tries.

Overall, Maryland shot 3-for-17 from behind the arc.

"You have to be able to handle this," Gary Williams said. "We don't have to get a lot better [but] we have to get better."

Maryland, which has final exams upcoming, does not play again until Dec. 22 against NJIT.

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sunjeffbarker

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