The players on the Maryland men's basketball team can't seem to figure out why they've gotten off to such poor starts in their two games in the National Invitation Tournament; all they know is that they've been able to pull out a victory in the end. Last night, the Terps rallied from a 16-point first-half deficit and beat Davidson, 78-63, in a second-round game in front of a lively crowd of 12,126 at Comcast Center.
Maryland (18-12) will host Texas Christian (21-13) in a quarterfinal game at noon Saturday. If the Terps beat TCU and Georgetown wins at South Carolina tonight, then the local teams will meet in the semifinals Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. Georgetown (19-12) and Maryland have not played one another since the 2001 NCAA tournament.
Georgetown at South Carolina
Records: Hoyas 19-12, Gamecocks 17-13.
Where: Colonial Center, Columbia, S.C.
Data: The Hoyas blew through the first two rounds, winning by an average of 23.5 points, but they face a much tougher challenge at South Carolina. The Gamecocks are 15-3 at home, which includes a regular season victory over Kentucky (73-61 on Feb. 15) and NIT wins over Miami (69-67) and UNLV (77-66). Senior forward Carlos Powell scored a team-high 15 points against UNLV, and the Gamecocks' bench combined for 28 points. Sophomore guard Tre Kelley, a two-time All-Met from Dunbar, had a career-high nine assists. The Hoyas are shooting 49.5 percent in the NIT; freshman forward Jeff Green is averaging 17.5 points on 71 percent shooting (15 for 21) in the two games. The winner will earn a spot in the semifinals, which will be played Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
-- Camille Powell
Guard John Gilchrist did not play for the second straight game because of injuries to his ankle and wrist. Gilchrist, who hit several three-pointers during pregame warmups despite wearing street clothes, said before the game that he was done for the season but then quickly retracted the statement. He was not made available to the media following the game, and Coach Gary Williams was noncommittal when asked about Gilchrist's availability for Saturday.
"He's legitimately got a bad wrist and bad ankle," Williams said. "We'll see what happens. To play and re-injure it might not be in John's best interest now."
Junior Sterling Ledbetter started in Gilchrist's place and scored 10 points (on 4-of-6 shooting) and had eight of Maryland's 15 assists. He was one of six Maryland players to score in double figures; freshman forward James Gist led the Terps with 15 points.
"Sterling's more of a pass-first guard, so it changes the mind-set of how you're going to play the game," said junior Chris McCray, who had 11 points and six rebounds. "He's been playing great since the end of the season, and we're 2-0 with him starting."
Maryland got off to a poor start once again; through the first 10 minutes of the game, the Terps had more turnovers (seven) than baskets (five). Davidson (23-9) used an 11-0 run to build a 34-18 advantage with 3 minutes 54 seconds left in the first half.
It was reminiscent of last week's 85-72 win over Oral Roberts. In that game, Maryland trailed by 13 in the first half, before a technical foul on Williams ignited a 17-0 run that turned the game around.
There was no such seminal moment yesterday. Williams called a timeout and told the players that they needed to raise their intensity, and McCray said that as soon as Williams called for a full-court press, the Terps' eyes lit up.
Nik Caner-Medley (12 points and 11 rebounds) snapped a five-minute scoring drought for the Terps with a layup and foul shot, and that started Maryland on a 16-0 run to close out the half. The Terps' defense was just as important as their ability to execute on offense in that stretch. Gist stole a pass that led to a fast-break dunk, one of the first easy baskets of the night for Maryland. The Wildcats took only five shots during the final 3:54; one of them was swatted away by Ekene Ibekwe (five blocks), and another was a half-court heave at the buzzer.
• SAINT JOSEPH'S 58, TEXAS A&M 51: In College Station, Tex., Pat Carroll scored 22 points and Dwayne Lee added 13, including a three-pointer with 1:16 left, to lead the Hawks in the quarterfinals.
Saint Joseph's (23-11) advanced to the semifinals in New York and will face Memphis on Tuesday night.
MEMPHIS 81, VANDERBILT 68: Rodney Carney scored 26 points, and Darius Washington added 23 and seven assists to lift Memphis at home.
Anthony Rice had 11 points, and Duane Erwin scored 10 and grabbed 15 rebounds, putting Memphis (22-15) into the NIT semifinals for the third time in five years.