LAHAINA, Hawaii -- The Arizona State Sun Devils came to the Maui Invitational with no national ranking, no hype and no pressure.
In other words, everything that the seventh-ranked Maryland Terrapins took with them last week from College Park. But the Sun Devils now have something the Terps don't: a championship trophy to take home from Maui.
With an awesome display of three-point shooting down the stretch that backed up a strong first-half performance by junior center Mario Bennett, Arizona State upset the Terps, 97-90, before a raucous crowd of 2,500 at the Civic Center.
"I was pleased with the effort, but we just didn't do a good job of shutting down their shooters," said Maryland coach Gary Williams. "With Bennett, they have a pretty good inside-out combination."
It was mostly outside -- in some cases way outside -- shots by the Sun Devils that helped erase a four-point lead of the Terps, who had trailed by as many as nine points twice in the first half and by four at halftime before a 9-0 run midway in the second half put Maryland ahead.
Four straight threes in a span of 3:23 helped the Sun Devils break open a close game. With Arizona State leading by 10, 80-70, with 2:57 to play, the Terps made a last-ditch effort. They closed to within four with 1:57 to go and had a chance to get closer when Marcel Capers missed the front end of a one-and-one.
But Duane Simpkins threw the ball away and Joe Smith, playing with four fouls for nearly six minutes, fouled out with 57.1 seconds to go. Capers then hit both ends of a one-and-one to seal the victory. The Sun Devils made 14 of 20 free throws in the last two minutes.
"It kind of reminded me of the UMass game, but we sort of feel like they did after we beat them," Simpkins said, alluding to Maryland's second-round upset of the Minutemen in last year's NCAA tournament. "Those threes they hit were very big."
The Sun Devils, who came into last night's game after upsetting 13th-ranked Michigan in the semifinals, hit 60.4 percent of their shots for the game and 59 percent for the tournament. Bennett was 9-for-13 from the field against Maryland, 30-for-37 to break the tournament record with a sizzling 81 percent.
"We came out here looking for respect, and I think we found it," said Bennett, who like many of his Sun Devils teammates has spent an inordinate amount of time in Tempe sidelined by injuries. "The sky's the limit."
Said Sun Devils coach Bill Frieder: "We beat two excellent teams in Michigan and Maryland. That's super for these kids. It's the first tournament Arizona State has won since 1970. It's a feather in a cap for our program."
Arizona State had five players in double figures: aside from Bennett, who finished with 20 points and was named the tournament MVP, senior guard Isaac Burton finished with a team-high 23 points, junior forward Ron Riley scored 19 and Capers had 13 points. Freshman reserve Jeremy Veal added 10.
Junior forward Exree Hipp led Maryland with 25 points on 10-for-17 shooting, and sophomore All-American Smith, despite a sprained right ankle, scored 23 to go along with eight rebounds. Junior guard Johnny Rhodes had 19 points. Both Smith and Rhodes were hampered by fouls down the stretch and fouled out in the final minute.
"This game will make us focus more and realize that you can't take anybody lightly," said Hipp. "I think we have to go back home and work on some things, especially on defense."
Said Williams: "I think we're a good basketball team, but like a lot of teams that came out here, we have some things to work on. We have to play better team defense. You can't let a team shoot 60 percent and expect to win."
The loss probably will cost Maryland several places in the national rankings, and sent Williams back home without a championship he would dearly love to have. After not playing either of the two other nationally ranked teams, No. 11 Indiana and No. 13 Michigan, the Terps wound up losing to a team that played a very similar style. Only better.
"They're the quickest team we've played since I've been at Maryland," said Williams.
As for how his team will react to the season's first defeat, Williams was upbeat.
"I think we're focused, but I think everybody is going to get beat this year -- maybe Arkansas won't," said Williams, whose Terps will leave here tomorrow and play their next game Tuesday night at home against Loyola. "There are a lot of good teams out there. Who knew that ASU was this good?"
B6 At least three teams in the Maui Invitational did.
Maryland center Joe Smith has had great success in games televised by ESPN:
Opponent ...... Pts. .. Reb. .. Blk.
Georgetown ..... 26 ..... 9 ..... 1
Oklahoma ....... 30 .... 16 ..... 3
Duke ........... 11 ..... 9 ..... 3
Virginia ....... 10 .... 12 ..... 2
Virginia* ...... 25 .... 10 ..... 1
1994-95 Chaminade ...... 26 ..... 9 ..... 1
Utah ........... 33 .... 10 ..... 4
Ariz. State .... 23 ..... 8 ..... 1
- ACC tournament