Maryland basketball defeats Indiana, 80-68

Landon Milbourne (19 points) shot 8 for 11 from the field.
Landon Milbourne (19 points) shot 8 for 11 from the field. (Darron Cummings/associated Press)
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By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 2, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, IND. -- Back and forth, guard Adrian Bowie ran the baseline underneath Maryland's basket with just more than four minutes remaining at Assembly Hall. Maryland held a slim lead over an Indiana squad that may have been outmatched, but refused to acknowledge as much.

Back and forth, guards Greivis Vasquez and Sean Mosley passed the ball at the top of the key as the shot clock ticked down. And finally, after riding out the lull, Vasquez whipped a pass to Bowie for an uncontested layup.

Claiming a win Tuesday night required patience -- a trait Maryland may have acquired during its dismal trip to Hawaii last week. The Terrapins (5-2) hung on to defeat Indiana, 80-68, in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge with a grit they had yet to discover this season. Maryland's effort was not polished or dominant, but it was enough.

"Sometimes when you go on the road, you have to take the other team's shot in the first 10 minutes," Maryland Coach Gary Williams said. "They came after us; there's no doubt about that."

Indeed, with just more than four minutes remaining in the first half, Indiana (3-4) led by seven. Many of the maladies that plagued Maryland during a dismal trip to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational last week had resurfaced: missed close shots, passive defensive rotations, foul trouble and a press defense that ran as though it had a flat tire.

"Our press didn't exist," Williams said. "They did a great job of attacking our press. We had to get out of it, and we don't get out of it very much, but we did tonight. So we were able to withstand that hit early and then settle down and get the lead at halftime. That was the key: take the hit and then go play."

Maryland had held a team meeting on Sunday during which players demanded that the focus level improve. More than midway through the first half Tuesday night, the Terrapins' focus remained missing. Adrian Bowie, Eric Hayes and Greivis Vasquez missed layups on three consecutive possessions late in the first half. Landon Milbourne bobbled a ball out of bounds underneath the Maryland basket.

But then the Terrapins made an adjustment that had served as their trusty safety pin so many times last season: They switched to a 3-2 defensive zone, a move that disrupted Indiana's rhythm and enabled Maryland to build momentum.

"It's always nice to have if you're struggling covering guys man-to-man," said Hayes, who finished with 14 points. "We can go zone like we did today and slow them down. It was just one of those things that was great for us last year and we're trying to get it better this year because it hadn't really worked that great at the beginning of this year. But today it worked great for us."

The Terrapins utilized their zone defense throughout the second half to visible results -- Indiana shot 32.4 percent from the field after the intermission. Still, the Hoosiers found a way to increase their point total in step with Maryland's. The lead changed hands six times in the final 20 minutes despite a more efficient output from the Terrapins' offense.

Indiana forward Christian Watford sank a free throw with just less than nine minutes remaining to tie the score, 54-54. But Maryland proceeded on a 16-4 run to push the game out of reach. The Terrapins shot 56.5 percent from the field in the second half.

"That just shows a little bit of maturity, a little bit of poise," said Milbourne, who tallied 19 points and seven rebounds. "We didn't get rattled and we didn't let the crowd affect us too much. We just stayed confident and did what we had to do to win."

Part of that formula included a balanced effort on the stat sheet. Four Maryland players scored in double figures, led by Vasquez who recorded 23 points and eight assists. Mosley totaled 13 points and nine rebounds. Freshman forward Jordan Williams pulled down 11 boards.

After a 1-2 showing in the Maui Invitational last week that dropped Maryland out of the top 25 polls, the Terrapins gained some momentum heading into Sunday's matchup against No. 3 Villanova in the BB&T Classic. "We needed it," Gary Williams said of the win.

"I think we was going to bounce back sooner or later," Mosley said. "I think we did a great job of just coming out here with intensity. We knew it was going to be a big crowd out here today, and we just took the momentum over, and we did a great job of closing the game."

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