Maryland Terrapins Upset North Carolina Tar Heels in Men's College Basketball, 88-85

By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 22, 2009

They washed over him as he extended both index fingers in the air. Swarmed at midcourt by hundreds upon hundreds of exuberant students after another emotional home win, junior guard Greivis Vasquez embraced a moment brought about by numerous unforeseen circumstances.

The five members of the Maryland men's basketball team on the court when time expired in an 88-85 overtime win over No. 3 North Carolina stood for all that had gone right and all that had gone wrong for 2 1/2 hours yesterday afternoon at Comcast Center.

"That's all we could do," Maryland Coach Gary Williams said. "We maxed out what we could do. . . . I think sometimes you worry too much about the other team instead of just execute your offense, play your defense, and if that's good enough, maybe you've got a shot at the end of the game."

From the beginning, Maryland (17-9, 6-6 ACC) counted on a steadying influence from Vasquez, a role he relishes. He scored the team's first 16 points and finished with the first triple-double recorded at Maryland in 22 years. Vasquez ended with 35 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists -- and the Terrapins needed all of them.

North Carolina (24-3, 10-3) inbounded the ball with 4.2 seconds remaining in overtime. Guard Ty Lawson, a pest to the Terrapins all afternoon, looked for an opening. Often, his supreme quickness allowed him to slip past Maryland defenders. He tallied a team-high 24 points but could not get a shot off as the final moments expired.

Junior guard Eric Hayes, a "finisher" as Williams has come to describe him, collected the loose ball and tossed it toward the rafters.

"I wanted to throw it as high as I could," said Hayes, who finished with 17 points. "I've never had a chance to do that before."

Hayes was removed from the starting lineup three weeks ago. In the six games since, he has transformed into a valuable reserve, one of many who carried the Terrapins to victory against the Tar Heels.

Sophomores Cliff Tucker and Jerome Burney, also on the court as time expired, were two other reserves who made essential contributions.

Burney, in just his second game back following a two-month absence because of a foot injury, tallied two points, one rebound and one block, which would not be impressive without the context surrounding his 12 minutes of play.

Starting forward Landon Milbourne and reserve forward Dino Gregory fouled out in the second half, forcing the Terrapins to turn to Burney. Paired with forward Dave Neal, Burney was charged with containing what Williams called "an NBA front line," which included the reigning national player of the year, Tyler Hansbrough.

North Carolina outrebounded Maryland, 51-40, and outscored the Terrapins on second-chance points, 22-10. Hansbrough finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds. The Tar Heels led by 16 points in the second half. And still, Maryland prevailed.

"We weren't going to get every second shot, third shot," Williams said. "But we jumped, we tried, and that's this team. What can you do? You jump. If you don't get it, you jump again. And then if they get it again you've got to play defense again. We're going to do what we can do."

Tucker provided a long-range touch that the Terrapins missed the last time these teams played. He made 5 of 7 three-point attempts and finished with 22 points in 29 minutes. Maryland shot 43.3 percent (13 for 30) from beyond the arc yesterday.

Tucker's minutes have steadily climbed in recent weeks, a point of significance for a player who earlier this season revealed public frustrations over a lack of playing time. But Williams said he spoke with Tucker and told him to be patient, that his time would come.

"Our bench did extremely well," Neal said. "Cliff came in and gave us excellent minutes. Jerome came in and played extremely well, and that's what we needed. . . . Without them, I don't think we would have won that game."

Even freshman guard Sean Mosley -- the fifth Terrapin standing on the court at game's end -- was emblematic of the team on this day. He played just 14 minutes, missed both shots he took and did not display the defensive prowess for which he has become known. But he did not back down, regardless of circumstance.

"They were killing us on the boards, but Coach, he just wanted us to keep working and never stop, no matter how many points we were down," Tucker said. "Just keep fighting and fighting and that's why we got the win, because we kept fighting."

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