Terps tested, testy

The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK - There was Maryland junior guard Greivis Vasquez, who heard boos earlier in the game from a smattering of fans on his team's home court, putting a finger to his lips and shouting at the student section to be quiet.

There was Maryland, which had made one of 14 three-point shots in its stunning loss Wednesday to Morgan State, missing its first 13 yesterday against Georgia Tech at Comcast Center. There were the Terps, trailing by 10 with 9 1/2 minutes left in their Atlantic Coast Conference opener.

But through it all, the Terrapins persevered. They managed to overcome frigid shooting, the frustration of their fans, and a Georgia Tech size and rebounding advantage to claim a 68-61 victory. They managed to turn a most inartistic game into something they could be proud of.

"It's not always going to be pretty or anything like that," Maryland coach Gary Williams said after his team had used defense - Georgia Tech committed 28 turnovers, nearly double its season average - to rally in the second half. "Hopefully we really get a lot out of this game."

Maryland erased the 10-point deficit with a 15-2 run sparked by defensive pressure. The run featured two passes by Vasquez that led to consecutive three-pointers by junior Eric Hayes, who scored 14 of his team-leading 17 points in the second half.

The Terrapins won despite shooting 25 percent in the first half and 31.5 percent for the game. They won on an off-night shooting by Vasquez, their leader, who made some pointed comments after the game about lack of support from select fans.

There were scattered boos after Vasquez, who finished with 16 points and six assists, missed his fourth three-point attempt in a row and again when he was briefly taken out of the game with 12:13 left. Maryland trailed at the time by eight points. The crowd was also yelling at some other Terps as well to play better.

A few moments later, with the crowd cheering and Maryland now ahead 53-52, Vasquez placed his index finger to his lips and implored the student section - in his own way - to shut up. He again shouted an expletive toward the section later in the half.

"I don't know if they were booing me or booing the other team. It doesn't bother me. My mind is strong," Vasquez said. "We're 12 and 3. We were 9 and 5 last year about this time. What the hell are they thinking? If they don't want to believe in us, get the hell out. We don't need them here. We need the people who are going to support us and be with us."

Vasquez continued: "I want to say thank you to the people who were supporting us and believing in us. If you don't want to support us, get out."

Maryland got another strong game from freshman Sean Mosley (St. Frances), with 10 points off the bench. But it was sophomore Adrian Bowie who put the Terps ahead to stay at 63-61 with a pair of foul shots. The shots came after Georgia Tech's 28th turnover.

"It was the turnovers," Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said of the key to his team's second straight ACC loss.

It was a win Maryland needed. The Terps face more pressure in games against their easier ACC opponents - and Georgia Tech qualifies - because those are the games they are expected to win. Maryland knows it will need to win at least half of its 16 ACC games to qualify for the NCAA tournament.

Maryland also needed to rebound from its most recent loss. Remarking on his team's cold shooting, Williams said: "I think that might have been a little bit of a hangover from the Morgan State game. These are kids, and confidence comes and goes."

play it again

Keys to the game

Once again, defense sparked a second-half rally. Maryland forced three of Georgia Tech's 28 turnovers in a critical 15-2 run. The defense had Georgia Tech off balance as evidenced by a number of traveling violations.

Did you notice that ...

* Greivis Vasquez was 6-for-6 on free throws and has now made 35 in a row.

* Maryland called off its full-court pressure at the game's end because coach Gary Williams didn't want to risk yielding an easy basket.

* Landon Milbourne got into early foul trouble, so Maryland relied on Braxton DuPree (Calvert Hall) and Jin Soo Kim to play inside defense.

Left to ponder

Maryland's three-guard offense is quick but small. The Yellow Jackets had a 49-39 advantage on the boards.

Jeff Barker

MARYLAND (12-3, 1-0 ACC)


(12-3, 1-1)


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