Maryland eliminated by Georgia Tech in 2010 ACC tournament
Saturday, March 13, 2010
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The final score always dictates perspective on how a game played out, which does not always do justice to the team on the losing end. When observers who did not witness Friday night's ACC quarterfinal matchup between second-seeded Maryland and seventh-seeded Georgia Tech look back on the contest, they will see the end tally -- Yellow Jackets 69, Terrapins 64 -- and draw their conclusions accordingly.
What that final score does not indicate is the manner in which the Terrapins nearly erased a 16-point halftime deficit by inflicting a punishing defensive assault on the Yellow Jackets, who struggled to handle it. Georgia Tech, which advanced to Saturday's semifinals to play either Florida State or North Carolina State, tallied twice as many turnovers in the second half (16) as it did made baskets (eight).
"I've never been a part of anything like this," said junior guard Adrian Bowie, whose team will return to College Park to await its NCAA tournament selection on Sunday. "Just to realize that, it sounds even crazier to me."
But because the game's outcome did not fall in Maryland's favor, the Terrapins' coaches and players were forced to expound on less-flattering topics, such as the lacking effort they displayed in a first half in which they shot 29 percent and were dominated by Georgia Tech's front court on the defensive boards.
In the opening statement of his postgame press conference, Maryland Coach Gary Williams said the Terrapins "weren't ready emotionally," and he took responsibility for that flaw.
Maryland opened the second half by forcing Georgia Tech to commit three turnovers in the first minute. Less than six minutes after the break, the Terrapins had cut the deficit to four.
"Heading into the second half down by 16 was embarrassing," said senior forward Landon Milbourne, who finished with 15 points and five steals. "Being that we came in here the number two seed, thinking that we were going to win the whole thing, you know, it was just a little embarrassing coming into halftime down by so much."
Williams claimed the only adjustment his team made was in its effort level, but that coincided with a few critical tactical modifications. In the first half, the Terrapins wasted many offensive possessions with rushed, first-look shot attempts. After the intermission, Maryland players were more patient.
With 14 minutes 49 seconds remaining in the second half, Milbourne pump-faked in the corner, then drove the baseline and dished to senior guard Eric Hayes, who sank a jump shot. Junior guard Cliff Tucker stole the ball on the ensuing inbounds pass and fed Milbourne, who made a short jumper.
The second alteration Maryland made after halftime involved the ferocity with which it implemented its full-court press defense. After every made basket of the second half, the Terrapins flooded the back court with four and sometimes five defenders.
"We knew they brought four people up, so we wanted to match it up by bringing everyone up and once we brought everyone up it caused confusion for them," Bowie said. "It was a lot of problems for them. They couldn't get the ball in, they started making turnovers and, you know, we cut into the lead."
After Milbourne's jumper cut Georgia Tech's lead to two points with just less than 13 minutes remaining, Maryland had opportunities to tie or take the lead on four straight possessions and came away with nothing each time.