By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 14, 2010; D09
DURHAM, N.C. -- After two hours in which his team failed to do nearly all of the things that had helped it ascend the ACC standings in recent weeks, Maryland Coach Gary Williams sat with his arms folded against a table at his postgame news conference and made perhaps the most poignant comment of the day.
Frustration? Williams knows full well the definition of the term, but after the Terrapins were out-executed by No. 8 Duke for nearly all of Saturday's 77-56 loss, the coach didn't feel his players deserved to settle on that emotion.
"Frustration comes from, if you're really playing well, you know, and then you get a couple bad calls or something like that, that's frustration," said Williams, sweat still gleaming on his brow. "Frustration isn't not running your offense well, not screening out. That's not frustration.
"That's not playing well. That's all that is."
For the second year in a row, Maryland (16-7, 6-3 ACC) departed Cameron Indoor Stadium having been handed its most demoralizing defeat of its season to date. Duke (21-4, 9-2) was better than the Terrapins, on this day at least, in nearly every facet of the game. The final result was not as emphatic as the 41-point defeat Maryland suffered here last year, but abundant miscues were evident nonetheless.
After holding their previous six opponents to worse than 40 percent shooting from the field, the Terrapins allowed Duke to shoot 41.5 percent on Saturday. After establishing itself as the top three-point shooting squad in the ACC, Maryland made 2 of 13 attempts (15.4 percent) from beyond the arc against the Blue Devils.
And, after utilizing superb ballhandling and vigilant defense to dictate the pace of play in previous conference contests, the Terrapins tallied 10 assists to 14 turnovers and forced Duke to commit just seven turnovers of its own.
"I think we started off real slow," said junior guard Cliff Tucker, who finished with 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting. "I think it's real important that we come out real good. We started out real slow today. We started to catch a run, but every time we got a run, they would always answer back and that's what killed us today. We got like two or three runs where we thought we were going to come back, but each time they always got a second chance rebound or made a big three, got their crowd into it and that's what killed us."
Indeed, Maryland trailed by 18 in the first half, but played for brief spurts after the intermission like the team that entered the day in second place in the conference standings. The Terrapins cut the deficit to 10 points midway through the second half on a jumper by senior guard Greivis Vasquez, but that was as close as they would come.
Vasquez recovered from a first half in which he shot 1 of 5 from the field to finish with a team-high 17 points. He made 6 of 7 shots after the break, but the effort, as he said, "wasn't good enough to win the game."
Not even close, as it turned out. Maryland struggled during critical junctures of the game to keep up with Duke on the boards. Blue Devils Coach Mike Krzyzewski -- who coached his 1,000th game at Duke on Saturday -- gave 7-foot-1 center Brian Zoubek his first start of the season, and Zoubek responded by grabbing a game-high 17 rebounds.
Duke held the size advantage on many individual matchups against the Terrapins, but that was nothing new for an admittedly undersized squad. Maryland, in fact, had rebounded quite well against previous ACC opponents with superior size this season, and while the final tally Saturday -- Duke claimed a 44-37 rebounding edge -- did not seem all that convincing, the reality on the court proved more definitive.
"I'm not sure what the difference was between them and some of the other teams like Wake Forest," senior guard Eric Hayes said. "But [the Blue Devils] just seemed to always be on the glass and getting rebounds."
Saturday marked the start of a three-games-in-five-days stretch for the Terrapins, which leaves little time to digest their latest loss at Cameron, for better or worse.
"This is one game," Williams said. "That's three losses in the league, and we have to play Monday night. So nobody's dwelling on this very long."