ATLANTA -There was an odd sense of uncertainty as the Maryland Terrapins walked slowly into the Georgia Dome tunnel yesterday after a 67-61 loss to Duke ended their Atlantic Coast Conference tournament run one win shy of the final.
The game was over. But the season? That's still in the balance.
Maryland, the tournament's seventh seed, must wait until the selection committee makes its decisions public tonight to learn whether it has realized its season-long goal of advancing to the NCAA tournament.
"I'll probably just be glued in front of the television tomorrow," said freshman guard Sean Mosley, who had eight points and five rebounds. "We're right on the edge of making the tournament."
The Terps (20-13) knew they could have all but secured a bid by beating the Blue Devils, their nemesis, who have now defeated them three times this season. It was little consolation that the Terps moved closer in each game, losing by 41, then 11, then six.
"I don't feel good at all," said guard Greivis Vasquez, who scored 14 points on 6-for-17 shooting and scored only five points in the second half.
"I'm a winner. I wanted to win the whole [ACC] tournament. We've got to work hard, man, for next year," said Vasquez, a junior, who said Wednesday that he was weighing entering the NBA draft.
Maryland coach Gary Williams and his players were careful to avoid comments that could be interpreted as bullying or prodding the selection committee. The school is privately hoping that the committee won't mind giving a relatively high number of bids to major conferences such as the ACC.
The ACC got four bids last season and seven - including Maryland, which advanced to the second round - in 2007.
"What we've done is for people to judge. I know we're a very good basketball team right now," Williams said.
Williams said Maryland played seven games against teams ranked No. 1 at some point in the season.
"It changes hour to hour - who's in, who's not," Williams said. "We came in as the seventh seed and didn't do anything to hurt that."
The Blue Devils advanced to play Florida State in today's ACC tournament final.
Duke kept threatening yesterday to pull away.
Maryland, which trailed 32-30 at halftime, was within 44-41 after Dave Neal's shot in the lane.
But Duke went on a 12-2 run highlighted by three-pointers by Gerald Henderson and Jon Scheyer. The 56-43 lead was Duke's largest, and the Blue Devils never trailed after that.
Maryland's last chances came after Duke had spread the floor and begun killing the clock. Maryland pulled to 65-61 on Eric Hayes' jumper in the lane with 16 seconds left. But Duke's Nolan Smith hit two foul shots and Vasquez missed a pair of three-point attempts near the end.
Now Maryland must wait.
"We're not sure if we're in," said Hayes, who scored 20 points. "Nobody has a clue. We're anxious to hear our name called."
play it again
Keys to the game
Maryland was unable to play as much zone defense as it wanted because of Duke's three-point shooting. "When we did go to zone [Jon] Scheyer knocked a couple down," coach Gary Williams said. The Terps got to the foul line only nine times compared with Duke's 21.
Did you notice
* Greivis Vasquez didn't score in the second half until the 10:51 mark.
* Adrian Bowie was aggressive, taking 11 shots and scoring 10 points.
* Dino Gregory missed a one-handed follow slam midway through the second half that would have been one of the plays of the season.
Left to ponder
Maryland finished 8-8 in the Atlantic
Coast Conference last season and
didn't make the NCAA tournament.
The Terps must hope the
conference's strength this season -
plus their two ACC tournament wins
- will put them over the top.