By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 22, 2010; D01
SPOKANE, WASH. -- Like his coach, his teammates and every other Maryland follower in attendance Sunday at Spokane Arena, senior forward Landon Milbourne was prepared to celebrate another furious comeback charge, another dramatic win. The Terrapins had erased what once was a 16-point second-half deficit and pulled ahead by one with 6.6 seconds standing between them and a Sweet 16 berth.
So when Michigan State guard Korie Lucious received a pass near the top of the key, Milbourne leapt toward him, thrust his left arm out and then turned to watch what he figured would be an errant shot clank harmlessly off the rim.
Instead, Lucious's buzzer-beating three-point attempt fell through the net, giving the Spartans an 85-83 win that ended Maryland's season. Distraught, Milbourne put his hands on top of his head and stared blankly out into the crowd.
"I knew they was going to have a chance to get a shot, but I didn't think it was going to be a good look like that," Milbourne said after the final game of his collegiate career. "You can't really describe it. The only thing you can do in that situation is just hope that it doesn't go in. Or at least hope that he didn't make it in time. But he did, and they came out with the win."
Over the final two minutes of the game, the Terrapins (24-9) orchestrated a frenetic push that in the end only made the heartbreak more brutal. Lucious made a layup to put the Spartans up by nine with 2 minutes 5 seconds to play, and had that been the final margin, several Terrapins said the outcome might have been easier to swallow.
Instead, senior guard Greivis Vasquez and a vicious full-court press fueled a 10-0 Maryland run that provided the Terrapins their first lead since early in the first half. Vasquez tallied 10 of his team-high 26 points in the contest's final two minutes.
"I just thought it was going to be my last game, and I didn't want it to be my last," said Vasquez, who also recorded eight assists and three steals. "But unfortunately, it went the other way. I'm just proud that we came back and we took the lead. It took a lot of guts to do that, and our team did it, everybody."
The run began with a jumper by Vasquez. He was fouled in the process and sank the free throw to cut the Terrapins' deficit to 80-74. On the ensuing Michigan State inbounds play, Vasquez forced a steal and fed sophomore guard Sean Mosley for a layup.
Maryland had trailed by nine at the intermission and employed its vaunted full-court press whenever it had the chance in the second half. Ten of Michigan State's 19 turnovers came after the break.
"When a team pressures you like they did in the second half, I wouldn't call it exhausting because that's what we worked for," Michigan State forward Draymond Green said. "But it does get kind of frustrating and it kind of wears you down a little bit."
Nine seconds after Mosley's layup, a trio of Maryland defenders trapped Michigan State forward Raymar Morgan near midcourt. Junior guard Cliff Tucker stole the ball and raced toward the basket. Eventually, the ball ended up in Vasquez's hands, and he made a three-pointer to pull Maryland within one with 1:27 left.
Another Michigan State turnover led to another Vasquez basket, and with 35 seconds left, Maryland led 81-80. All of the ailments that had plagued the Terrapins in the game's first 38 minutes appeared to have vanished.
The Spartans (26-8) built a double-digit lead with a commanding performance on the boards and a hot hand from guard Durrell Summers, who scored 26 points and made 6 of 7 three-point attempts. Maryland garnered a season-low 24 rebounds, while Michigan State registered 42.
"Even with the rebounding margin being so wide, we still had the game," Milbourne said. "We were still up, and they just hit an unbelievable shot. Maybe if we'd battled on the boards a little bit more, it wouldn't have been that outcome. But it is what it is."
Michigan State claimed the lead right back after Vasquez's basket, as Green scored on a jumper with 20 seconds to play. But Vasquez responded with a drive into the lane, a 180-degree spin to his right and a leaner that fell in with 6.6 seconds left on the clock.
"I thought that was it," said senior guard Eric Hayes, who finished with 18 points and seven assists. "They're not going to make two shots to take back the lead. And Lucious, he stepped up and made a big shot for them."
Indeed, it was Lucious, a player who might not even have been in the game in that situation were it not for a first-half injury to starting point guard Kalin Lucas, who caught a pass from Green near the top of the key, took one step to his left and fired the game-winning shot.
"It just seemed like we were going to win that game," Maryland Coach Gary Williams said. "And then we had it taken away from us, so this is tough."