Hokies deal fading Terps another critical defeat, 91-83

NCAA tournament hopes dim further for Maryland, which suffers 3rd loss in past 4 ACC games

G. Williams: 'I'll take that effort every night from our team'

  • Maryland guard Cliff Tucker is blocked at the basket by Virginia Tech forward Jarell Eddie. Tucker finished with 10 points on 4-for-10 shooting from the field.
Maryland guard Cliff Tucker is blocked at the basket by Virginia… (Steven Silton / Collegiate…)
February 15, 2011|By Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun

BLACKSBURG, Va. — The last time Maryland played Virginia Tech, the Hokies scored the game’s first dozen points. The 12-0 score and subsequent defeat seemed to stick with Maryland coach Gary Williams like a bad cold.

So one can only imagine how the Maryland coach felt as the Hokies scored the game’s first five points in Tuesday night’s rematch and raced to a 10-point lead.

This time, Maryland rallied to take the lead but couldn’t hold it in a 91-83 Virginia Tech victory. The Terps lost despite a career-high 25 points by freshman guard Terrell Stoglin. His previous high was 18.

It was a game that had an urgent feel –- desperate even -– for both teams. Like Maryland, the Hokies know they must still build a case to be prominently considered for the NCAA tournament.

“That was a tough 40 minutes out there. I think both teams put it out there tonight,” Williams said. “We gave up second shots in the second half and missed some makeable shots that really cost us in a game like that.”

But the coach also said: “I’ll take that effort every night from our team.” He said Maryland’s performance was superior to the one in the first Virginia Tech game on Jan. 20. But he quickly added: “That won’t let me sleep tonight -- because we (still) lost.”

The Terps (16-10, 5-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) were trying to avoid their third loss in their past four ACC games -– an arc that could prove disastrous this late in the season.

But Maryland, which entered the game 2-7 in games decided by single digits, couldn’t avoid dropping another close one.

“I don’t think the NCAA tournament is out of the picture right now,” said senior forward Dino Gregory (12 points), who added that players were instructed by coaches afterward “to put the game behind us.”

The Terps next face North Carolina State on Sunday at Comcast Center.

“We have two home games coming up now, and we have a chance to go back over .500 [in the conference],” Williams said.

The lead changed seven times in the first half alone. Those swings continued late into the game.

An inside move by Jordan Williams (16 points, nine rebounds) put the Terps up, 76-75. He played the final few minutes with four fouls.

“It’s frustrating. You can’t really be really as aggressive as you want to be [in foul trouble],” Jordan Williams said.

But, moments later, a jumper by Malcolm Delaney (Towson Catholic) gave the Hokies (17-7, 7-4 ACC) a 79-76 lead. Erick Green then hit a critical 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to stretch the advantage to 82-76 with 3:24 left.

Trailing 84-79, Maryland’s hopes had faded when Stoglin missed a jumper with 48 seconds left. His two free throws cut the margin to 87-83 with 33 seconds left, and the Terps then got the ball back by forcing a five-second call on Virginia Tech’s inbounds play. But Adrian Bowie missed a contested shot in the paint with 31 seconds left and the Hokies sealed the game on foul shots.

Maryland –- which usually plays man-to-man defense -– played lots of zone against the Hokies to minimize matchup problems. Delaney shot just 3-for-14 but made all 14 of his free throws. Fellow guard Green had 20 points.

“They’re pretty good, but I’ve played better guards before,” said Stoglin, who said his 25-point night was due partly to getting out in the open court. “I was able to get in transition and just push the ball. I love playing that style,” he said.

Maryland had trailed, 20-10, before Stoglin brought the Terps back. The Terps have increasingly come to rely on the guard's scoring –- he is adept at creating his own shot -– and fellow freshman guard Pe’Shon Howard’s ballhandling.

At one early stage of the game -– with the score tied at 27 -– Stoglin and Howard had combined for more than half of Maryland’s points.

Maryland was also aided in the first half by senior Cliff Tucker’s 10 points. Tucker was rebounding from being held scoreless against Boston College in the previous game.

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sunjeffbarker

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