Duke Drubs Maryland, 85-44

By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 25, 2009

DURHAM, N.C., Jan. 24 -- With 13 minutes 8 seconds left in the first half of the worst defeat in Gary Williams's 31 years as a head coach, the Maryland men's basketball team trailed by just six. Over the next eight minutes, Duke outscored the Terrapins 15-2.

But point margins -- as shocking as they were in Saturday's 85-44 loss at Duke -- were of little interest to Williams afterward. It was the manner in which the Blue Devils handed Maryland its fourth-worst defeat in program history, rather than the vast point-total separation, that disappointed Williams.

"You could tell throughout the whole game," said junior guard Eric Hayes, who shot 1 of 6 from the field and accompanied four turnovers with zero assists. "From the beginning, they were getting loose balls, getting offensive rebounds, kicking out, and once they hit their first couple of outside shots it was just a snowball effect and everybody was hitting everything.

"We just got down too deep there where we had no chance of coming back."

One sequence of events during Duke's sizable first-half run was emblematic of the entire afternoon. Just more than eight minutes into the game, Blue Devils forward Lance Thomas stole the ball from Maryland guard Sean Mosley and found teammate Greg Paulus heading upcourt. Paulus attempted an alley-oop pass to Blue Devils swingman Gerald Henderson, but the pass was blocked by Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez.

This was what the Terrapins (13-6, 2-3 ACC) needed. They had lost momentum, but quickly had a chance to gain it back. But with Vasquez's teammates trudging back on defense, no Terrapin was around to retrieve the loose ball, which Paulus corralled to give a second chance to Duke (18-1, 5-0). But it would get worse.

"We just didn't come out prepared to play," said Maryland forward Landon Milbourne, who accounted for 19 points, nearly half of Maryland's total. "We didn't come out with the same intensity that we did in the last couple of games, and I think they just played a little bit harder than us tonight. And it started to get out of hand to the point where we couldn't come back."

Having retrieved the ball, Paulus, listed at 6 feet 1, retreated to the corner and attempted a three-pointer. He missed, but managed to grab the rebound. Duke's third chance was at hand.

Rebounding has been an issue for the Terrapins all season, one they knew would arise due to their lack of size and experience in the post. Duke outrebounded Maryland, 56-38, on Saturday, in part because 7-1 center Brian Zoubek spent the afternoon tormenting any Terrapin who broached the lane.

Paulus slung a pass to Thomas, who attempted an errant jumper. Over the outstretched arms of several Maryland players, Zoubek slapped the ball out to the perimeter and into Paulus's hands once again. For the fourth time that possession, Paulus surveyed the court.

"They crashed the boards extremely hard," said 6-7 forward Dave Neal, who finished with one rebound for Maryland. "They brought five guys every single time. Zoubek, he's got a huge height advantage on me. I just feel like he's just so much taller and so much longer that he can reach over, and I saw them tap the ball out like five times. They just hit it as far as they could to half court. Boxing out can only do so much."

Forty-seven seconds after the possession began, Paulus made a jumper that put Duke up by 10. The Blue Devils led by 25 at halftime. Then 30. Then 40. With just more than 12 minutes remaining in the game, Thomas scored to provide Duke its largest lead of the afternoon, 44 points.

Asked afterward if he could pinpoint when his team lost control of the game, Williams was flippant.

"Thirteen-o-eight in the first half," he said, pulling a random time out of his head. "No, I don't know exactly when we lost control, but it was a matter of losing confidence in our ability to run our offense and things like that. I'm not sure when that happened."

Williams's random estimation proved quite accurate. The Terrapins were closer to the lead than they were at any other point the rest of the afternoon. Maryland's point total was the lowest ever accumulated under Williams, and the loss was the program's worst since falling to Seton Hall by 44 in 1941.

"If you don't prepare yourself and come out here and play hard, they're going to get you," said Vasquez, who finished with four points on 2-of-10 shooting. "And they got us."

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