CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- One week after coming from behind to steal a dramatic victory away from home, the Maryland Terrapins could not complete a comeback by making the clutch shots on the road last night.
When the 13th-ranked Terps look back on their 80-78 overtime loss to Virginia before 7,301 at University Hall, they will remember a Cavaliers team that showed an unusual level of effort for a squad that had dropped seven straight games and looked bad doing it.
Maryland, which finished in second place in the Atlantic Coast Conference and will be the No. 2 seed in this week's tournament, also will remember the heroics it could not create, as it had at North Carolina State a week earlier.
After coming from seven points behind midway in the second half to force an extra period last night, and after trailing by five points three minutes into overtime, the Terps still had their chances.
Trailing 79-78, the Terps called timeout with 14 seconds left in overtime, then got the shooter they wanted. But senior guard Drew Nicholas, who scored a game-high 27 points and had beaten the Wolfpack last week with 1.5 seconds left on a three-point shot, let fly another three-pointer from well beyond the arc that rimmed out with five seconds left.
After Virginia center Travis Watson grabbed the rebound and made one of two free throws, Maryland had one more opportunity to win the contest or send it into double overtime. But after senior point guard Steve Blake -- held scoreless for the game's first 38 minutes -- missed a desperation three-point attempt from the left corner, senior center Ryan Randle missed a tip-in at the buzzer.
By virtue of a tiebreaker, the Terps (19-8, 11-5) head into the ACC tournament as the second seed and will play seventh-seeded North Carolina on Friday at 7 p.m.
The Cavaliers (15-14, 6-10) won on Senior Night by completing their first regular-season sweep of Maryland in 10 years and denying the Terps their school-record, seventh straight 20-victory season.
Watson led Virginia with 26 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Guard Todd Billet scored 18 points, all on three-pointers. Senior center Jason Rogers, who had played 14 minutes all year and made the first start of his career, hurt Maryland with 12 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots.
Nicholas led the Terps with 27 points. Randle finished with 13 points and six rebounds.
Virginia won this game the hard way -- by crushing Maryland on the boards. The Cavaliers held an astounding 59-36 edge on the glass, including 23-11 at the offensive end. On a night when they shot a pedestrian 39.4 percent, the Cavaliers pushed around Maryland's big men at will and killed the Terps with second shots.
Four Virginia players had at least as many rebounds as Randle, who was benched for a good chunk of the first half and had only one rebound by halftime. Senior Terps forward Tahj Holden had 10 points and grabbed only two rebounds in 34 minutes. Junior backup center Jamar Smith scored six points, missed four dunks, and recorded four rebounds in 19 minutes.
"We've been a pretty good rebounding team all year, but Virginia really got us on the glass tonight," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "You have to give them credit for coming out and playing hard. That's a pretty good team when they play that way. I don't think we were really fired up to play."
Whether it was their one-week layoff, or the fact that Duke's earlier loss yesterday to North Carolina had guaranteed Maryland the No. 2 seed in Greensboro, the Terps did not have the zip Williams was expecting to see, especially against an interstate rival that had come from behind to upset Maryland in College Park last month.
"Every time we made a run to come back, we couldn't keep them from getting second shots and putting them in. We got good looks, but we missed shots we usually make. You couldn't ask for a better shot at the end. That was from six inches," Williams said of Randle's tip.
Virginia showed that it had something left in its gas tank in the opening half, as the Cavaliers whipped Maryland badly on the boards while taking an early 7-5 lead and keeping it through halftime at 38-33.
Had it not been for its ability to force turnovers with its full-court press and convert steals into easy baskets, and had it not been for a 15-point scoring show by Nicholas, Maryland might have been in a bigger hole.
Four of Maryland's five seniors combined to score two points in the opening half.
Maryland scored the first seven points of the second half to take a 40-38 lead, but the Cavaliers dug in and kept digging, eventually pulling away to a 58-51 lead midway in the second half. But behind Nicholas, Holden and Randle, the Terps tied the score at 66 and 68. Then, Blake made his first shot of the night -- a pull-up three-pointer that gave the Terps a 71-70 lead with 1:24 to go.
But Billet hit his final three of the night to make it 73-71 in Virginia's favor with 42 seconds left. Randle tied the score at 73 with a slam off a nice drive and feed by Blake with 29 seconds left, forcing overtime.
Maryland proceeded to shoot 1-for-8 in the extra period, with Randle's being the final, painful miss.
"I wanted to make it," Randle said. "I hope it happens next time, so I'll put it in."
Virginia 80, Maryland 78, OT
Maryland Min FG FT Reb A F Pt
Caner-Medley 18 3-3 0-1 1 0 2 7
Holden 34 2-7 6-7 2 3 4 10
Randle 31 5-12 3-6 6 1 4 13
Nicholas 42 10-20 3-4 4 1 2 27
Blake 41 2-11 0-0 5 10 2 6
Smith 19 2-10 2-4 4 0 1 6
Collins 2 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0
Garrison 7 1-1 3-4 3 0 2 5
McCall 12 0-3 0-0 1 1 1 0
Gilchrist 19 2-2 0-0 5 0 1 4
Totals 225 27-70 17-26 31 16 19 78
Percentages: FG-.386, FT-.654. 3-point goals: 7-22, .318 (Caner-Medley 1-1, Holden 0-3, Nicholas 4-9, Blake 2-8, Collins 0-1). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 8 (Nicholas 2, Randle 2, Holden, Smith, Caner-Medley, McCall). Turnovers: 11 (Nicholas 5, Gilchrist 3, Blake, Randle, Holden). Steals: 10 (Caner-Medley 3, Nicholas 2, Randle 2, Blake, Gilchrist, Smith).
Virginia Min FG FT Reb A F Pt
Clark 18 1-1 0-0 5 1 1 2
Watson 42 8-19 10-12 15 2 4 26
Rogers 21 5-6 2-4 6 0 3 12
Billet 41 6-15 0-0 6 2 1 18
Smith 32 3-11 3-4 7 3 2 9
Vander Laan 8 0-1 0-0 4 0 2 0
Byars 28 3-7 0-0 5 1 3 7
Mapp 17 0-3 0-0 1 2 0 0
Harper 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0
Brown 17 2-8 2-5 5 1 3 6
Totals 225 28-71 17-25 54 12 19 80
Percentages: FG-.394, FT-.680. 3-point goals: 7-23, .304 (Billet 6-10, Smith 0-7, Byars 1-4, Mapp 0-2). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 6 (Rogers 3, Watson, Brown, D Byars). Turnovers: 21 (Watson 4, Billet 4, Smith 4, Mapp 4, Rogers 2, Byars 2, Brown). Steals: 5 (Watson 3, Brown, J Harper).
Maryland 33 40 5 - 78
Virginia 38 35 7 - 80
A: 7,301. Officials: Karl Hess, Reggie Cofer, Tony Greene
Next for Terps
Matchup:No. 13 Maryland (19-8) vs. North Carolina (16-14) in Atlantic Coast Conference tournament quarterfinals
Site:Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum
When:Friday, 7 p.m.
TV/Radio:Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)
Inside:ACC tournament bracket. [Page 8c]