Vasquez, Terps meet the Challenge

The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK - Coming off its biggest defeat in four years and one of the worst in the two decades since coach Gary Williams returned to his alma mater, Maryland needed something to evaporate the memory of the 27-point evisceration the Terps took at the hands of Georgetown on Sunday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Would Michigan comply?

Would Maryland compete?

The Wolverines didn't roll over last night at Comcast Center, but the Terps recovered - Greivis Vasquez in particular.

The mercurial junior guard, who had only two points against the Hoyas, led Maryland (5-2) to a much-needed 75-70 victory in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge by scoring 23 points, pulling down a career-high 12 rebounds and adding six assists while making only one turnover in 35 minutes.

Vasquez also held Manny Harris, the Wolverines' best player, to 15 points on 5-for-15 shooting for Michigan (5-2).

"It was big," Vasquez said. "I had the worst game in my life since I don't remember, since I was playing basketball ... but I've got to move on."

It took until the second half, in fact, for the Terps to distance themselves from what happened Sunday and start resembling the team that crushed then-No. 5 Michigan State in the opening round of the Old Spice Classic by 18 points Thanksgiving night.

Trailing 35-29 at halftime Maryland quickly tied the score on three-pointers by Vasquez and Eric Hayes (13 points, four assists) to spark a 16-3 run that included sophomore forward Dino Gregory (Mount St. Joseph) giving the Terps a lift off the bench.

But the Wolverines wouldn't go away.

After Michigan erased a 45-38 deficit to take a 51-49 lead on a three-pointer by guard Zack Novak with a little less than 12 minutes to go, Maryland showed its resolve. Led by junior forward Landon Milbourne, who made a couple of huge plays down the stretch, the Terps recaptured the lead and never gave it up.

Williams, who improved to 10-3 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and 5-0 at home, was happy with the way his team responded.

"When you see things like that from a young team that has that resiliency when we're not trotting out four or five seniors to play, I know it helps me as a coach, because I know they're really trying, they're really listening, and that's all you can ask your team to do," Williams said.

Williams tweaked his starting lineup, replacing sophomore center Braxton Dupree (Calvert Hall) with the team's only senior, Dave Neal. After a tough first half, Neal finished with 12 points and, as he did against Michigan State and Vermont, hit a big three-pointer during Maryland's second-half run.

Gregory also played more, finishing with six points and seven rebounds in 26 minutes.

"I thought he was a force defensively," Williams said of Gregory, 6 feet 7, who had one block and altered a few other shots.

Williams said Gregory and sophomore Adrian Bowie, who started his first game this season, gave the team the energy it lacked the previous two games.

"We're 5-2, and we've played three teams ranked from 16 to 10 to 5," Williams said. "We beat a team tonight that beat UCLA on a neutral court, so I'm pretty pleased with what we did the last week in terms of first winning against Michigan State and then not acting like the season is over when we lost to Gonzaga and Georgetown."

Note:: The Maryland field hockey team, which recently won the national title, was honored at halftime.


New lineup

Maryland coach Gary Williams made two changes in the starting lineup, inserting senior Dave Neal (12 points, four rebounds) for sophomore Braxton Dupree at center and sophomore Adrian Bowie at the shooting guard position for Cliff Tucker.

Shooting frees

The Terps were 18-for-20 from the free-throw line, including 7-for-8 in the final 1:27 to keep the Wolverines at bay. Maryland has made 52 of 62 over the past four games.

Braxton benched

Williams said Dupree, who has struggled in a starting role this season, was benched for missing class Monday after the team returned home from Florida late Sunday night.

Coming attraction

Maryland (5-2) will play George Washington (3-1) at 7:30 p.m. Sunday in the BB&T; Classic at Verizon Center in Washington. The Terps have lost to the Colonials the past two meetings in the tournament.

Don Markus


BB&T; Classic, Washington

Sunday, 7:30 p.m.


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