COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Gary Williams and his players have heard it loud and clear over the last couple years.
Not enough talent.
Unable to hang with the ACC’s elite.
So on senior night, Greivis Vasquez, Eric Hayes, and Landon Milbourne had a final opportunity to silence the critics on their home floor at Comcast Center. They and the rest of their teammates did not disappoint.
In a back-and-forth battle that saw nine ties and six lead-changes in the second half, the Terps imposed their will and used a suffocating defense to outscore No. 4 Duke 10-3 in the final two minutes to secure a 79-72 victory, pulling into a first-place tie with the Blue Devils in the ACC standings with one regular season game remaining.
Despite losing a 14-point first-half lead and falling behind by four early in the second half, Maryland’s defense was relentless, holding the Blue Devils to 33 percent shooting after the intermission.
“Defensively, we won the game,” Williams said. “No one scores a lot of points against Duke, but what we did early, we were really hot and made some great plays. At halftime, we had to come out and fight, and for the first eight minutes [of the second half], no one was scoring and it was two really good teams fighting each other.”
As he has all season, Greivis Vasquez led the effort, scoring 13 of his 20 points in the second half including an acrobatic one-handed runner to put Maryland ahead 73-69 with 37 seconds to go. In addition to Vasquez’s customary heroics, the Terps (22-7, 12-3 ACC) again received contributions from different sources at pivotal moments in the game.
Reserve guard Adrian Bowie scored nine points in the second half, including two field goals that gave the Terps a lead and another that tied the game at 65-65 with 4:18 remaining. It was just another example of a role player stepping up at a critical time, a familiar pattern during Maryland’s current six-game winning streak.
“[Bowie] really saved us in the second half,” said Hayes, who finished with 13 points. “We were struggling to score and he came in there when Greivis and I were on the bench, and he provided us a nice spark of scoring, playing good defense, getting out on the break.”
Rebounding from what could politely be called a learning experience in his first meeting against Duke, Jordan Williams continued to show his maturation, standing his ground—and then some—against the tough Duke frontcourt, scoring 15 points and grabbing 11 rebounds to display just how much he learned from his first trip to Durham. It was just another example of the freshman’s dynamic impact this season.
“When you coach a freshman with the potential that Jordan has, that is really an encouraging sign,” Gary Williams said. “You want players to learn. You don’t mind that they get beat early in their careers; you want them to learn.”
And as we look ahead to Saturday’s regular season finale at Virginia and postseason play, it’s time to reflect on what we’ve learned from this team over the last three weeks:
It rebounded from a brutal first half in Raleigh and earned an ugly road win at NC State.
It won on a buzzer-beater against Georgia Tech to preserve a perfect home record in conference play.
The Terps endured a three-hour delay because of a water main break and won in double overtime against a Virginia Tech team that hadn’t lost a game in Blacksburg all season.
And now, the Terps have finally gained the signature win for which the critics have waited all season.
This is the type of victory that not only gives this team more confidence entering the postseason, but it causes us to reconsider our own expectations of how far it can advance into March.
Despite its perceived shortcomings, the Terps have answered every challenge thrown their way over the last three weeks and have done so in impressive—not to mention exciting—fashion.
Critics will continue to point to a lack of size as their biggest weakness and yet the Terps have knocked off Duke, Georgia Tech, and Clemson in the last three weeks, three of the biggest teams the ACC has to offer.
For a group of players that weren’t supposed to be this good, they’re doing a lot to convince us otherwise.
Maybe it’s time to start believing them. Perhaps a deep postseason run is far more likely than anyone thought.
“I’m really proud for our seniors and our team,” Gary Williams said. “They got dogged pretty good last year when they didn’t deserve it. They really picked it up this year and to do what they did, I’m happy that they stuck it to a few people who had some things to say.”
Needless to say, the doubts are falling more and more silent.
And the wins continue coming in loud and clear.
– Maryland snapped a six-game losing streak to Duke and finished the season 15-1 at Comcast Center.
“The crowds have been great,” Gary Williams said. “Hopefully that will continue as the years go on.”
– The Terps have now beaten a top-10 team at least once in 14 straight seasons.
– Vasquez has made 30 consecutive free throws with the streak dating back to the NC State game on Feb. 17.
– Maryland outscored Duke in the paint, 38-26, and held the advantage in fast-break points, 9-0.
Check out the final stats here and the live blog below.
11:03 p.m. — Scheyer misses the layup, and it looks like Maryland will have the opportunity to play for at least a share of the ACC regular season title.
Williams goes to the line and makes them both. Why not?
Andre Dawkins hits the 3-pointer, but it’s all over.
Maryland knocks off No. 4 Duke with a very convincing final few minutes and is now tied for first place in the Atlantic Coach Conference.
Final score: Maryland 79, Duke 72.
And the court is being absolutely mobbed.
11:02 p.m. — Vasquez with the one-handed shot! How did that go in?!
Just a tremendous shot from the best player in the history of Comcast Center.
Following the Duke miss, Mosley is fouled and the native Baltimorean drains a pair of free throws.
Maryland leads 75-69 with 26.2 seconds to play.
11:01 pm. — One minute to play and Maryland up two. Enough said.
11:00 p.m. — Just a HUGE offensive rebound and put-back by Jordan Williams.
Big-time play by the freshman.
10:59 p.m. — After Vasquez has it poked away by Scheyer, Smith’s jumper ties the game.
You get the impression that Hayes could throw the ball toward the rim blindfolded and it’d go in at this point.
10:55 p.m. — At the final media timeout, Maryland leads Duke, 67-65, with 3:26 to go.
What more could you ask for in this one?
10:54 p.m. — Vasquez scores with the running bank shot to give Maryland a 67-65 lead with 3:42 remaining. He now has a team-high 16 points and has absolutely come alive in the last few minutes.
Timeout on the floor.
10:53 p.m. — Despite a slow start, Scheyer now has 17 points after hitting the running left hand in the lane.
Bowie scores on the other end to tie the game.
The pace is just furious in the final four minutes.
10:52 p.m. — Scheyer hits a big triple to put Duke back in front.
And Vasquez answers with his own. His biggest shot of the night by far.
10:51 p.m. — Following another Maryland timeout, Singler goes to the line and makes 1-of-2 to give Duke a two-point advantage.
Mosley maintains his composure and finds a cutting Hayes for the layup. Very calm basketball play right there.
10:50 p.m. — Very quiet night from Vasquez thus far. Does he have one final act in him here at Comcast Center?
10:48 p.m. — Following the break, Vasquez goes to the line and drains a pair to tie the game at 56-56.
The Terps show the press, but Duke handles it.
Following the miss on the other end, Bowie hits the mid-range jumper off the dribble.
10:45 p.m. — We’ve reached the under-8 media timeout with Duke holding a 56-54 advantage over the Terps with 7:43 to go.
10:44 p.m. — Seven unanswered points by Nolan Smith causes Gary Williams to call timeout. He now has 18 for the game.
10:42 p.m. — Thomas just picked up his fourth foul. Bad news for the Blue Devils.
10:41 p.m. — Tough shot by Smith with Bowie right in his face.
Following a Mosley miss, Smith hits another bucket and is fouled by Mosley. He hits the freebie to complete the 3-point play and tie the game with 9:00 to go.
10:36 p.m. — Maryland and Duke go into the under-12 media timeout with the Terps in the midst of a 12-3 run.
The Terps lead 54-49 with 10:43 remaining.
10:35 p.m. — Bowie with ANOTHER huge shot from the perimeter as we’ve seen him do a handful of times over the last few weeks. Despite his shooting struggles this season, he’s really stepped up at some very key times for the Terrapins down the stretch.
10:34 p.m. — Adrian Bowie with the steal and the layup to give Maryland a 49-47 lead. The crowd is once again becoming a MAJOR factor for the first time in the second half.
And it gets even LOUDER as Milbourne throws down a monstrous, one-handed dunk on the next possession!
10:31 p.m. — Too much flare, not enough substance on the last two possessions.
10:30 p.m. — Mason Plumlee goes to the line and makes one of two as Gregory sits down after picking up his third foul.
Williams hits a HUGE jump hook and is fouled on the play. It also sends Zoubek to the bench with his third foul.
The frosh hits the freebie to tie the game as the Comcast crowd comes alive.
10:27 p.m. — The Terps have just four points in the first five minutes of the second half. Fortunately, the Blue Devils haven’t come out on fire either.
Zoubek and the Blue Devils, however, have completely changed the complexion of the game in the paint. They’re just dominating the glass.
10:24 p.m. — At the first media timeout with 15:55 to go, Duke leads Maryland, 46-44.
10:22 p.m. — Very nice to see Williams go to the line and drain two. As I’ve said all year, his form looks too good to be such a poor free-throw shooter.
10:20 p.m. — Scheyer goes to the line and makes two out of three freebies to give Duke a four-point lead.
Really need a bucket here if you’re Maryland.
10:18 p.m. — Not a good decision by Vasquez to try to fit that baseline pass into Hayes.
However, Mosley draws the player-control foul on Smith, Duke’s second team foul of the half.
10:16 p.m. — Vasquez hits the runner in the lane to tie the game. You get the feeling Maryland will need a HUGE second half from Vasquez to pull this one out.
Maybe not “Virginia Tech” big but you get my point.
10:13 p.m. — Scheyer hits a 3-pointer to start the half, and Duke leads 41-40, its first advantage of the night.
Let’s see how the Terps answer.
10:08 p.m. — The teams are back on the court, and we’re about three minutes away from the start of the second half. You have to be impressed with Maryland’s effort on the boards, outrebounding Duke 19-13.
As disappointing as it may have been to lose the comfortable lead, it’s important to keep in mind the Terps were without Milbourne—and to a lesser extent, Gregory— for a significant portion of the half.
9:56 p.m. — We’ve reached the end of the first half with Maryland now holding a very slim 40-38 lead over the Blue Devils.
Very disappointing outcome for a half in which the Terps held a 14-point lead with 6:14 remaining. It will be very interesting to see how Maryland responds after losing a comfortable advantage going into the intermission.
9:55 p.m. — Lots of dribbling on that final possession and Mosley comes up well short on the attempt from beyond the arc.
Duke takes a 30-second timeout with 0.8 seconds remaining
9:54 p.m. — After a week attempt by Milbourne matched up against Miles Plumlee, a Scheyer 3-pointer has cut the lead to two points. It was only a matter of time before he connected.
9:52 p.m. — And just like that, it’s a five-point game after a triple by Smith. Much closer than how this one has felt for most of the half, so you have to be concerned if you’re a Maryland fan.
9:50 p.m. — Singler hits the 3-pointer to cut the lead to nine points. His versatility is very impressive.
The Terps answer with a basket inside by Williams.
Tucker picks up his second foul on the other end as Single completes the three-point play. These are two big minutes for Maryland.
9:45 p.m. — Thomas has no problem inside against Padgett and scores inside.
We’ve reached the final media timeout of the first half with Maryland leading Duke, 36-26 with 3:23 to go.
9:43 p.m. — Gregory goes up to challenge Smith’s drive and earns the foul with the body. That’s Gregory’s second, so Padgett will come in to replace him.
Will be crucial for the two freshmen bigs to play well in the final five minutes before halftime.
Hayes scores inside on another fancy shot inside. He’d be a tough opponent in a game of HORSE right now.
9:41 p.m. — Mosley drains a 3-ball to give Maryland a 14-point lead. It’s safe to say his slump is a distant memory at this point.
Miles Plumlee attempts his first 3-pointer of the year and makes it. Go figure.
9:37 p.m. — Hayes hits the triple, but perhaps the even bigger story is the apparent hand injury to Zoubek. Losing him would be devastating for the Devils.
We’ve reached the under-8 media timeout with Maryland leading 30-19 with 6:42 to go before intermission.
9:34 p.m. — That one on Vasquez was very “questionable” to say the least, but I digress.
9:33 p.m. — Two fouls on Lance Thomas does not bode well for Duke’s defensive efforts. He’s a very effective and versatile member of the frontcourt.
Both teams now have five team fouls as Jordan Williams just picked up his first. Very physical game so far.
9:31 p.m. — Singler goes right inside against Tucker. Definitely not a favorable match-up there for the Terps, but Single presents a problem for just about anyone.
9:29 p.m. — Juan Dixon is here and just received a huge ovation. Despite the recent steroid-related news surrounding the Maryland legend, was there any question this place would go nuts anyway?
Padgett turns it over again, sending him to the bench. He’s getting a lecture from Keith Booth as we speak.
9:26 p.m. — James Padgett and Adrian Bowie are into the game. Padgett will probably see a couple more minutes than he normally would have given Milbourne’s foul trouble.
Vasquez scores on the runner to give him seven points.
Following a ticky-tack foul on Gregory, we’ve reached the under-12 media timeout with Maryland leading Duke, 21-8 with 11:43 to go in the first half.
9:24 p.m. — If Tucker’s going to hit THAT shot in the lane, I’m not sure the Blue Devils have a chance in this one.
9:23 p.m. — Nice job by Cliff Tucker to clean up the glass and secure the second-chance points for the Terps.
Maryland leads, 17-7. Cannot ask for much more at this point.
The Terps are also doing a very nice job fighting on the boards.
9:21 p.m. — Gregory with the offensive rebound to keep the possession alive, and Vasquez eventually finds a cutting Hayes for the fancy reverse layup. Hayes has really done a nice job with improving his short game.
On the next possession, Jordan Williams with a MONSTROUS dunk over Scheyer.
For good measure, the big man completes the 3-point play.
9:18 p.m. — David Pearman has as many buckets as Duke right now. Let’s see how the delay impacts this one.
And as I type that, Singler drains a triple. Perfect.
9:16 p.m. — Could this have come at a worse time for the Terps? The last thing you want is a delay when you’re playing well, and Duke cannot buy a bucket.
9:13 p.m. — Milbourne picks up his second foul, sending him to the bench. That could spell major trouble for the Terps.
Dino Gregory needs to give them some huge minutes here in the first half.
We have a delay right now as they must fix a torn net. Haven’t seen that one happen very often.
9:11 p.m. — You think the Terps are looking for the long-range looks?
Milbourne rattles in a 3-ball, and it’s 10-2. Duke is just ice-cold to start this one.
9:09 p.m. — Maryland able to get into its press early, something the Terps were unable to do in Durham last month. Let’s see how Duke handles it.
Vasquez takes another 3-point shot in transition and drains it.
Maryland needs 7-0, and this place is a complete madhouse!
9:07 p.m. — Williams absolutely stuffs Kyle Singler, but the Terps fail to convert in transition on the other end. Mosley HAS to make that layup.
Duke still looking for its first points of the night.
9:06 p.m. — After controlling the opening tip, Eric Hayes hits a runner in the lane for the first points of the game. Just an explosive reaction from the crowd.
9:04 p.m. — We’re almost ready for the tip. The student section is decked out in a “Gold Rush” as the school passed out t-shirts for students to sport.
Very cool scene here at Comcast.
9:00 p.m. — I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I’m guessing this crowd is not enamored with the Blue Devils. The loudest “SUCKS!” chants I’ve heard all year during the announcement of their starting lineup.
And it’s not even close.
8:55 p.m. — Here are tonight’s starting lineups:
G Jon Scheyer
G Nolan Smith
F Kyle Singler
F Lance Thomas
C Brian Zoubek
G Eric Hayes
G Greivis Vasquez
G Sean Mosley
F Landon Milbourne
F Jordan Williams
8:51 p.m. — Greivis Vasquez and Gary Williams embrace in a very emotional moment as the flashbulbs pop, and the senior from Caracas, Venezuela receives the deafening ovation from the Maryland fans.
Just a brilliant career and the greatest player in the—albeit brief—history of Comcast Center.
8:50 p.m. — Milbourne receives another loud ovation. You know he’d love to have a huge night to break out of his recent slump.
8:48 p.m. — Jerome Burney was honored first to a nice hand. Nice to see him get some recognition despite his playing career already coming to an end.
HUGE ovation for Eric Hayes. Well-deserve and one of the best 3-point shooters in school history.
8:46 p.m. — With Maryland set to honor all three of its seniors (and assistant trainer/former player Jerome Burney who will graduate in the spring), it’s a good move to hold off on raising the jersey of Vasquez to the Comcast rafters. It’s clearly only a matter of when the school will do it, not if.
When you have two other seniors in Hayes and Milbourne who have been crucial pieces of the program for the last four years, it’s a smart move to refrain from singling out Vasquez. Everyone knows he will unquestionably go down as one of the finest players in school history, but Hayes and Milbourne deserve the spotlight tonight as well. All three will bask in the adoration before turning their attention to Duke.
I also cannot help but think back to 2001 when Maryland went into Durham and beat Duke on Shane Battier’s senior night, so waiting on the extra honor for Vasquez is probably a prudent move. No need to give the Blue Devils any extra motivation in a hostile environment.
8:37 p.m. — As they have throughout the conference home schedule, the Terps will wear gold againts Duke tonight. Maryland is undefeated in the gold duds this season. Is one more too much to ask?
Just an electric atmosphere at Comcast, and we’re still over 20 minutes away from tip-off.
8:30 p.m. — Greetings from Comcast Center as we await the start of arguably the biggest game in the brief eight-year history of the building. It’s a game that needs no build-up; the circumstances speak for themselves.
Senior Night and the final home game for a triumvirate of seniors in Greivis Vasquez, Eric Hayes, and Landon Milbourne.
A share of first place on the line.
Jon Scheyer and Vasquez facing off in a final grapple for ACC Player of the Year honors.
Mike Krzyzewski and Gary Williams matching wits to possibly determine ACC Coach of the Year.
And oh yeah, DUKE is here.
Need I say more?
There isn’t much more to be said as No. 4 Duke (25-4, 12-2 ACC) comes to Comcast Center to battle the No. 22 Maryland Terrapins (21-7, 11-3 ACC). A win catapults the Terps into a first-place tie with the Blue Devils with one regular season game remaining.
Maryland will try to avenge a humbling 77-56 defeat in Durham on Feb. 13 when the Terps shot only 37.7 percent and were beat up inside by big man Brian Zoubek (16 points, 17 rebounds). It continued a six-game losing streak against the Blue Devils, dating back to 2007 when Vasquez, Hayes, and Milbourne were freshmen and knocked bested Duke twice in the same season.
For Maryland to extract revenge and grab a share of first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference, it will need to find a way to generate more from its half-court offense than it did last month at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke is very tough defensively and does a tremendous job of limiting fast-break opportunities for the opposition—a strength of the Maryland offense.
The Devils also do a tremendous job guarding the 3-point shot, allowing ACC opponents to shoot only 23.5 percent from beyond the arc. Maryland is tops in the conference in 3-point shooting (42.5 percent), and it’s well-chronicled how much better this team shoots in the friendly confines of Comcast.
The Blue Devils hold the edge inside, so the Terps will need a strong effort on the glass to limit second-chance opportunities. Maryland will need big efforts from Jordan Williams, Milbourne, and reserve Dino Gregory to offset the presence of Zoubek and Kyle Singler in the paint.
All of the stars are out tonight on press row as ESPN’s Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas, and Erin Andrews will call the action (9:00 p.m.) on the Worldwide Leader. Terps fanatic Scott Van Pelt is here (wearing a gold Terps polo and looking fired up) as a spectator. I’ve even spotted a few recognizable Baltimore/Washington media members who I haven’t seen at Comcast Center all year.
Must be a big game, right?
Stay with us right here at WNST.net throughout the evening, and don’t forget to chime in with your thoughts in the Comments section at the bottom of the page. As always, don’t forget to track us on Twitter (@WNST) as Glenn Clark and other WNST personalities offer thoughts and analysis throughout the game.