Maryland Defeats George Washington
Monday, December 8, 2008
As the final seconds wound down, George Washington Coach Karl Hobbs slipped a black blazer over his yellow dress shirt and began the lonely walk toward the other end of the scorer's table to greet the coach of a team that had not had much success recently in this environment.
Maryland, meantime, was wrapping up a 76-53 win over the Colonials in the nightcap of the BB&T Classic at Verizon Center, where the Terrapins had not won since 2004. For the third time this season, Maryland prevailed by a significant margin, though this performance was more complete -- and in many respects, more needed.
The Terrapins, for perhaps the first time this season, seemed capable of retaining momentum from one game to the next. They followed their first significant victory of the season -- a Nov. 27 triumph over then-No. 5 Michigan State -- with consecutive losses. After Wednesday night's victory over Michigan, Maryland Coach Gary Williams said his team needed to prove it could display the same hunger on a more consistent basis.
Against the Colonials (3-2), junior guard Greivis Vasquez believed, Maryland (6-2) had an opportunity to showcase its mettle.
"This is a game we need," said Vasquez, who had 17 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists. "I knew these guys weren't good enough to beat us. I knew. I spent a lot of time watching the tape and saw these guys were disorganized all over the place. They're great athletes, but their defense was not good enough."
Despite a sizable early rebounding deficit, the Terrapins opened with an offensive flurry unseen since Thanksgiving night. Junior guard Eric Hayes converted each of his first four shots, including three three-pointers, and tallied 11 points -- one fewer than the entire George Washington lineup -- by the time eight minutes had expired.
Junior forward Landon Milbourne demonstrated his growing comfort in the post with four blocks and two steals. But it was his continued offensive development down low that stood out on this night. Milbourne finished with 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting.
After the game, Milbourne referenced the Michigan State win and how the Terrapins not only relied on their energy to defeat the highly touted Spartans, but also on the offensive plays themselves. It was that trust in the system, Milbourne said, that was lacking in losses to Gonzaga and Georgetown.
Last night, the Terrapins played with composure. As Williams pointed out, that didn't mean the performance was flawless, but it marked a step forward for a young roster.
"We have to learn that the time is coming quickly when we're going to have to play for 40 minutes for most of our games," Williams said. "We weren't able to do that tonight, but I thought George Washington kept hustling. We've been in that situation before. We have to learn to go the full 40. That doesn't mean I'm not pleased with the way we played, we're just trying to get better."
After being out-rebounded 16-3 following the opening tip, Maryland responded to claim a 45-42 edge on the night. Williams pointed to sophomore forward Dino Gregory, who finished with nine rebounds, and freshman guard Sean Mosley as players that have "established themselves."
"Now we need other people," Williams said. "Jerome Burney did some good things tonight. Cliff Tucker has great athletic ability. He can play, but he has to meet the challenge. We need him to give us some minutes; we really do."
And that was the difference between Hobbs and the coach who greeted him with a firm handshake. Williams spoke about the future of his team, while Hobbs was left to decipher what went wrong with his.
"I just thought," Hobbs said, "that, physically, they overwhelmed us at times."