Terps Break Out, Hold On

Cav­a­liers’ Late Rally in Bat­tle for Post­sea­son Con­sid­er­a­tion Falls Short Mary­land 85, Vir­ginia 75

The Washington Post - - Sports - By Marc Carig

Mary­land Coach Gary Wil­liams said he sensed a change in his team Sun­day evening, when the feel­ings of dis­ap­point­ment were still fresh af­ter a loss to No. 3 Duke. The Ter­rap­ins led af­ter a quick start in that game, only to watch the Blue Devils rally in the sec­ond half. But in­stead of hang­ing their heads, Wil­liams said he no­ticed a new de­ter­mi­na­tion in his play­ers, a drive to make sure not to al­low a sim­i­lar fail­ure.

“By the time we walked out of the locker room, we were up­set we didn’t win,” Wil­liams said yes­ter­day. “See, that’s what you have to be. You can’t be down. You have to be up­set.”

That seemed to make a dif­fer­ence last night, when Mary­land proved how much things have changed while knock­ing off Vir­ginia, 85-75, in a game crit­i­cal to the post­sea­son fates of both teams.

For most of the game Mary­land proved to be the more des­per­ate team, hold­ing a dou­ble-digit lead over an op­po­nent that per­haps could have shown more ur­gency. Even when Vir­ginia turned up the in­ten­sity

in the fi­nal min­utes with a rally that brought them to within two pos­ses­sions of the lead, the Ter­rap­ins had just enough to fend them off.

“We were de­ter­mined,” said se­nior for­ward James Gist, who once again helped the Ter­rap­ins es­tab­lish what’s be­come an ef­fec­tive inside-out­side of­fen­sive game.

Mary­land led by 17 points be­fore the Cav­a­liers cut it to five with Ma­madi Diane’s dunk with 1 minute 55 sec­onds left. But, un­like in the loss to the Blue Devils, the Ter­rap­ins made plays in the fi­nal min­utes.

Se­nior cen­ter Bam­bale Osby scored on a tip-in with 53 sec­onds left and guard Greivis Vasquez hit two free throws with 21 sec­onds left to close out the Cav­a­liers.

“We grew,” said Vasquez, who led all scor­ers with 25 points. “We learned from our mis­takes.”

While Mary­land bol­stered its NCAA tour­na­ment hopes by avoid­ing the kind of home loss that could be­smirch its all-im­por­tant Rat­ings Per­cent­age In­dex, Vir­ginia re­mained in last place in the ACC.

Only one team in ACC his­tory be­gan 1-5 or worse in con­fer­ence play and earned an NCAA tour­na­ment berth. In 1986, Mary­land started 0-6 in Lefty Driesell’s fi­nal sea­son, but ral­lied be­hind Len Bias to fin­ish 6-8 and ad­vance to the tour­na­ment.

“We’re go­ing to work on a dayto-day ba­sis to find proper an­swers to the ques­tions that are hurt­ing us right now,” Vir­ginia Coach Dave Leitao said. “We’ve dug our­selves a deep hole.”

De­spite an in­jured hip, guard Sean Sin­gle­tary scored 23 points to lead the Cav­a­liers. But Sin­gle­tary didn’t have enough im­prob­a­ble floaters or fade­away jumpers in his arse­nal to over­come a 51.9 per­cent shoot­ing night for the Ter­rap­ins.

With a rel­a­tively small lineup to face the tan­dem of Osby and Gist, Vir­ginia was in­tent on con­tain­ing the Ter­rap­ins’ front-court duo with a 2-3 zone it has used in lim­ited spots this year. And ear­lier this sea­son, zone de­fenses proved ef­fec­tive against the Ter­rap­ins, who had strug­gled with their shots.

But Wil­liams used the two days of prepa­ra­tion for just that adjustment. It seemed the only sur­prise was that Vir­ginia started the game in the zone and re­mained in it for most of the way.

“They weren’t good at it at all,” Vasquez said of the Cav­a­liers’ zone. “They were prob­a­bly play­ing hard. But we took easy shots and we weren’t forc­ing any­thing.”

Mary­land needed less than four min­utes to open a dou­ble-digit lead, us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of hot shoot­ing and crisp pass­ing to push ahead. Through nine min­utes, the Ter­rap­ins hit 12 of 17 shots from the field, and 6 of 10 from three­p­oint range while rack­ing up 10 as­sists.

And with that, the Ter­rap­ins had con­crete ev­i­dence of at least one of the changes they’ve un­der­gone in the last month.

“You know what that means,” Ter­rap­ins for­ward Lan­don Mil­bourne said. “When a team comes out there and plays zone, they think we can’t shoot that well from the out­side. We wanted to prove them wrong.”

BY JOHN MCDONNELL — THE WASH­ING­TON POST

“We were de­ter­mined,” said James Gist, here draw­ing a foul from Solomon Tat. Gist scored 17 points, one of five Ter­rap­ins in dou­ble fig­ures.

BY JOHN MCDONNELL — THE WASH­ING­TON POST

Greivis Vasquez goes up for two of his game-high 25 points. “We grew,” he said. “We learned from our mis­takes.”

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