By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 18, 2010; D03
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Nothing changed for the Maryland men's basketball team in the first two minutes of the second half Wednesday night at RBC Center. The mental fatigue and physical weariness that had plagued the Terrapins throughout the first half still were evident, and North Carolina State had pushed its lead to 12.
With just less than 18 minutes remaining in Maryland's third game in five days, Coach Gary Williams called a timeout, though not to discuss any sort of strategy adjustment.
"I just yelled," Williams said. "There was not a lot of basketball talk in that huddle. But, I mean, you have to do whatever it takes to win. I've been accused of yelling by a lot of people, but I'd rather win the game than just sit there and let it go to waste. So that doesn't bother me. I just coach my team the best way I can and try to get the win."
Following their coach's lead, the Terrapins took all necessary measures -- even counter-intuitive ones -- in order to secure victory a 67-58 win over N.C. State. Maryland (18-7, 8-3) has won seven straight contests over the Wolfpack (14-13, 2-10).
Muscle memory carried the Terrapins through the first 10 minutes of the game Wednesday night, but the lingering effects of the past week soon caught up to them. Maryland fell by 21 points at Duke on Saturday, then returned home to face Virginia on Monday in a contest that previously had been postponed due to severe winter weather. The Terrapins beat the Cavaliers by 19 and then boarded a flight back to North Carolina the next day.
N.C. State may reside in the basement of the ACC standings, but the Wolfpack proved capable enough of seizing on such an advantage. N.C. State hadn't played since Saturday and spent the first half Wednesday night controlling the pace and turning Maryland's miscues into easy points. The Terrapins shot 33.3 percent from the field in the first half and committed six turnovers.
"I thought we got a little bit too comfortable in the first half because they were playing slow, so I got into that mode," said senior guard Greivis Vasquez, who finished with 26 points and six assists. "But the second half we completely changed our attitude, and then we came out playing better defensively, and offensively we got things going for ourselves."
Though admittedly tired, Maryland had to elevate the game's tempo in order to work the sluggishness out of its system. The Terrapins began to press after every made basket, and they looked to score quickly on offense. Maryland recorded one turnover in the second half; N.C. State, on the other hand, registered seven in the same span.
With each break from the action during the second half, the Terrapins appeared to grow stronger. After the first timeout of the half -- taken by Maryland just more than two minutes in -- its surge was brief. After the second -- a television timeout nearly five minutes in -- the Terrapins were able to push a little further.
Vasquez drove in for a layup. Junior forward Dino Gregory tallied a block. Freshman forward Jordan Williams snagged a rebound. Unlike in the first half when such instances were isolated, Maryland was able to build on its positive developments as the second half progressed.
The Terrapins went on an 11-2 run out of that first television timeout, and by the time junior guard Adrian Bowie drained a three-pointer with just more than 11 minutes to go in the game, Maryland trailed by just one. It was N.C. State Coach Sidney Lowe's turn to call a timeout and allow his players to catch their breath.
"We wanted to get the momentum up," Bowie said. "Momentum was a little slow in the first half, so we just wanted to press 'em at all times and make 'em get tired. Once they got tired, they couldn't make shots. They didn't look inside as much, and it helped us."
Maryland held N.C. State scoreless for more than six minutes during the stretch when the Terrapins took the lead for good. Vasquez scored a three-pointer with just more than eight minutes remaining to put Maryland in front, and Jordan Williams -- who finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds -- scored on a layup moments later. The Terrapins shot 56.0 percent from the field after the intermission.
"I think you can start a game tired and then gradually get the adrenaline going, get the momentum going," Gary Williams said. "I was really worried when we didn't come out and close that lead a little bit at the start of the second half. I thought we were in trouble right there. That's the sign of a good team, that we were able to come back."