Knoche: Terps not ready to Pack it in

Knoche: Terps not ready to Pack it in
March 11, 2011, 2:18 am
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Thursday, March 10, 2011, 9:18 p.m.


By Chris Knoche
Jordan Williams had 16 points and 13 rebounds and the Maryland Terrapins led wire to wire to beat the North Carolina State Wolfpack in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament 75-67. The Terps rode a spirited first half effort where they raced to a 17 point lead and then held off NC State in the second half to snap a three game losing streak.Maryland had entered the game having probably frittered away any possibility for an NCAA bid with their performances in the last three games of the regular season. At this point the only realistic way into the NCAA tournament is to win the ACC tournament and capture the leagues automatic bid. North Carolina had entered the game with similar struggles as the Terps but had the added subplot of head coach Sidney Lowes job status to contend with as well. Lowe has never quite captured the hearts of Wolfpack fans (in spite of the fact that he helped to win a national championship while wearing the uniform) and he has a new athletic director to report to. That is usually not a good combination for a Division 1 basketball coach.The Terps got off to a blazing start. Led by surprise starter, freshman Hawk Paulsson, Maryland hit their first four shots and led 10-2 with barely two minutes gone in the game. State steadied themselves but it was only momentary. The Maryland onslaught continued over the course of the first half and the lead had grown to 25-14 by the time that freshman point guard PeShon Howard bulled his way to the hoop for a layup with just over 11 minutes remaining in the half.Six consecutive points later the Terps had a 31-14 lead and Lowe was using his second timeout of the half. At that point things seemed to stabilize a bit for Lowe and company and they cut the lead to 37-31 with just 59 seconds remaining on two Scott Wood free throws. The Terps responded with a three pointer by Sean Mosley and a perfectly executed pick and roll to end the half by Terrell Stoglin and James Padgett and it was 42-33 Terps at the break.In that first half the Maryland cause was bolstered in a large way by its bench. After a horrendous start, Howard came back and distributed the ball beautifully and both Mosley and Cliff Tucker had good moments. The story of that first half may very well have been the play of Padgett off the Maryland bench. When Gregory was forced to the pine with two fouls and six minutes still remaining, the Terps didnt just hold their ground, they picked up the pace. He was efficient on the offensive end and tenacious on the defensive end and finished the half with a much needed 6 points and 4 rebounds.NC State came out with a little fire in their eyes after the half and, led by freshman point guard Ryan Harrow, went right after the Terps. Harrow had two consecutive layups against the Maryland defense and fed forward Tracy Smith for another close hoop but the Wolfpack could never stop Maryland from scoring on their end. Baskets by Stoglin and Williams and a pair of free throws from Adrian Bowie kept the lead in the ten point range early in the half.State would force Marylands first timeout with just under 12 minutes to play when State reserve guard Javier Gonzales nailed a three to cut the deficit to 53-46. Coming out of that timeout, the Terps went on a lightning 7-0 run with Tucker scoring five of those points and lead was 60-46, Maryland.That lead would grow to 68-53 with just over 5 minutes remaining after a Dino Gregory free throw.In the last five minutes NC State put on a frantic charge but could never get over the hump. They pared that 15 point Maryland lead to 71-65 on a jumper by Lorenzo Brown with 55 seconds to play but freshman guards Howard and Stoglin combined to shoot a perfect 4-4 from the line to ice this one away for the Terps and account for the final margin.Williams was aided inside by Gregorys 11 points and two other Terps Tucker and Stoglin- had nine each. Every Maryland player that played scored and contributed. Perhaps more importantly, the game represented a return to form, of sorts, for the Maryland defense. The Wolfpack shot 31 from the first half with the game on the line and did not do a whole lot better in the second half. For the game they were 27-80, 34.Next up for the Terps is a quarterfinal matchup with the second seed Duke Blue Devils. Duke will come in motivated and focused after a serious beatdown at the hands of arch rival North Carolina in the last regular season game in Chapel Hill. Maryland, on the other hand, should come in loose and ready to play against a prohibitive favorite that has handled them twice this season.