Terps get a grip

The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK - Greivis Vasquez hit a three-point shot, stopped cold on the Comcast Center floor and wiggled his hips in celebration before heading downcourt.

The Terrapins had scored 12 points in a row to take a 17-point lead on Virginia in the final moments of the first half.

But kneeling in front of the bench, Maryland coach Gary Williams looked uncomfortable, and why not? Two games ago, Williams watched his team lose an identical 17-point lead in a two-point loss at Miami, so Williams knew it was far too early for hip shimmies or high-fives.

As it turned out, Maryland spared Williams more heartache by pulling out an 84-78 victory to avoid losing its third straight Atlantic Coast Conference game.

But the Terps (13-5, 2-2 ACC) sure made it interesting. With missed layups and turnovers, they allowed their lead to dwindle in the second half. Two free throws by Mike Scott cut Maryland's advantage to 65-63 with just more than five minutes remaining.

"There are a lot of demons you have to get out of your head after what happened at Miami," said Williams, whose team held on largely because of solid foul shooting at the end.

With Virginia (7-8, 1-3) within two points, senior forward Dave Neal hit a three-pointer to put Maryland up 68-63, and Landon Milbourne (17 points), Adrian Bowie (17) and Vasquez (16) kept the Terps ahead from there.

Neal played only three minutes of the first half because he took an elbow to the face while running back on defense. The blow raised a knot the size of a silver dollar above Neal's left eye. He said he believed Virginia center Assane Sene was the culprit, but the collision was accidental.

Neal was asked a series of questions by the team doctor to make sure he didn't have a concussion.

"Initially, he asked me to remember 'ball, cat and Ohio,' and five minutes later he was going to ask me again if I could remember it. And then he asked me to spell 'world' backward and the months of the year backward," Neal said.

Neal returned to the bench in the second half holding an ice pack to his forehead, then was summoned into the game and hit his big three-pointer.

Virginia pulled within 82-78 on a drive by Scott, but Vasquez sealed the win with two foul shots.

The Terps built a 45-30 first-half lead with their usual formula of defensive pressure and transition baskets. Virginia had 13 turnovers in the half.

The Cavaliers were within 33-28 when the Terps got their defense in gear. Taking advantage of steals by Vasquez and Jin Soo Kim, Maryland scored the next 12 points culminating in Vasquez's three-pointer and celebration.

The Terps were led in the half by Bowie, who used his quickness to penetrate into the lane and get fouled. Bowie attempted six foul shots - making five - before any other Terp had gotten to the line.

Bowie, who scored a career-high 23 points against Miami, shot 6-for-11 from the field and 5-for-6 from the foul line against Virginia. Dino Gregory (Mount St. Joseph) came off the bench to score eight points in the half, making all four of his field-goal attempts.

play it again

Keys to the game

Maryland had its best shooting game of the season at 53.7 percent. And the Terps forced 19 Virginia turnovers.

Did you notice that ...

* Landon Milbourne suffered a bloody nose but came up strong at the end, finishing with 17 points and five rebounds. Dave Neal suffered a large gash above his left eye.

* Eric Hayes had his first career double double with 10 points and a personal-best 11 assists. He had zero turnovers.

* Maryland got to the foul line 24 times, making 21. In its biggest games - the wins over Michigan State, Michigan and Georgia Tech - Maryland got to the line an average of 21 times.

Left to ponder

Will Milbourne wear down in a season in which he constantly plays against larger forwards? He again led the Terps in rebounds.

Jeff Barker

MARYLAND (13-5, 2-2 ACC)

@NO. 2 DUKE (17-1, 4-0)

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