MADISON, Wis. - When it was all over, after Wisconsin repelled his team's final comeback attempt, Maryland junior point guard John Gilchrist fell to the floor, his head resting against the Kohl Center court as one of the toughest nights of his college career came to an end.
The picture symbolized the Terps' frustration. On a night where Gilchrist shot 2-for-14 and Maryland struggled to combat both Wisconsin's home-court advantage and Badgers sophomore forward Alando Tucker, the 12th-ranked Terps still had a chance at the end, but ultimately fell to No. 25 Wisconsin, 69-64, before a sellout crowd of 17,142 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Down by three with five seconds to play, Terps junior Nik Caner-Medley was stripped as he attempted a potential game-tying shot and Zach Morley hit two free throws on the other end as Maryland's comeback attempt, reminiscent of so many from last year, came up agonizingly short.
Maryland, which spent the better part of the game trying to figure a way to slow Tucker, who had 20 of his career-high 27 points by intermission, trailed by as many as seven in the final minute, but kept clawing back.
"We gave ourselves a chance where we still could've won even though we didn't play that great," said Terps coach Gary Williams whose team fell to 3-1. "We just couldn't get it done."
Wisconsin (3-1), which is undefeated against its conference rivals at the Kohl Center the past three seasons, extended the second-longest home winning streak in the nation to 31. The Badgers are now 46-2 at home in coach Bo Ryan's three-plus seasons in Madison.
"You're not going to play in a harder place than this," Caner-Medley said.
The Terps committed 17 turnovers and hit just seven of 13 free throws, as Gilchrist missed the front end of two one-on-ones down the stretch. The Terps point guard also didn't have a field goal in the game's last 17 minutes and Wisconsin repeatedly crowded the lane to stop his drives, and also limited Maryland's transition game, which overwhelmed Memphis on Friday.
"We didn't play right," said a distraught Gilchrist, who had six points and eight assists. "We had opportunities, but we didn't finish. That's it. We just didn't make the shots."
Caner-Medley also hit just two of nine shots and committed six turnovers, while battling foul trouble most of the night. Junior guard Chris McCray, who scored 14 points, did foul out in the last minute and reacted angrily when jeered by the fans.
Sophomore forward Ekene Ibekwe, who carried the Terps for most of the second half with Travis Garrison hobbling with a banged-up knee, scored 15 of his team-high 21 points in the last 20 minutes before fouling out, too. His line included 12 rebounds and two blocks to go along with 10-for-13 shooting.
And still, the Terps had chances to pull this one off.
They trailed by five after Morley scored on a putback and Sharif Chambliss (15 points), who didn't start the game but certainly finished it, drained a three with 5:16 to play.
But, refusing to wilt, the Terps got a three-pointer from McCray and a dunk by Ibekwe to cut the spread to two with 1:53 to play. Then after Morley missed a free throw with 16 seconds left, and the Terps trailing only by three, Chambliss made the steal on Caner-Medley.
"We're never going to quit," said McCray. "But you can't expect to come back all the time, especially not against a great team on their home court."
It was a particularily satisfying win for the Badgers because they were routed by Pepperdine on Saturday, and lost in overtime to Maryland in last year's ACC/Big Ten Challenge. It was also the Big Ten's first win in the challenge as ACC teams prevailed in the first four games with four more games on tap today.
"There were no pity parties thrown," said Ryan on his team's reaction to the Pepperdine loss. "The guys just accepted what they had to do, get ready for the next game. I'm glad they did it."
Next for Maryland
Matchup: No. 12 Maryland (3-1) vs. George Mason (2-1) in BB&T; Classic
Site: MCI Center, Washington
When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
TV/Radio: Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)