By Liz Clarke
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 13, 2010; 12:05 AM
It was a classic college basketball game, with the lead rocking back and forth like a manic seesaw in the second half. And with 38 seconds remaining, Boston College led Maryland by three points in Sunday's ACC opener for both teams.
The game was far from over. A turnover, a steal and a missed free throw later, the Terrapins' invaluable big man, sophomore center Jordan Williams, grabbed a critical rebound, and the ball went to the team's fearless freshman, Terrell Stoglin.
Whether Stoglin rushed his shot or made the most prudent play is open to debate. But his three-point attempt to tie it with 17 seconds left clanged off the rim. It was the last shot Maryland got before a crestfallen crowd of 15,851 at Comcast Center, where Boston College claimed a 79-75 victory.
"I thought this was a game we could win," said Coach Gary Williams, conceding that the defeat "hurt personally."
Maryland (7-4, 0-1) had the upper hand multiple times in a game with 16 lead changes, getting the bulk of its offense from Jordan Williams, who finished with his fifth straight double-double and ninth of the season, scoring a game-high 27 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.
Stoglin, who took a game-high 17 shots, and senior forward Dino Gregory were the only other Terps to finish in double figures, contributing 14 points each.
But with Boston College raining three-point buckets while Maryland banged away from close range, the math didn't work in the Terps' favor. Maryland made four more baskets (32 to Boston College's 28), but just three three-pointers to Boston College's 13.
Eagles senior guard Biko Paris drilled six alone to lead his team with 22 points.
Though there were many ways to dissect the Terps' fourth loss of the season, it was undeniably a game that Maryland could have - and perhaps should have - won.
Maryland shot 49 percent from the floor, managed a 35-34 edge in rebounding, led 41-39 at the half and also led with 2 minutes 12 seconds remaining.
But when the Terps absolutely needed a basket, they came up empty.
"Anytime a game gets like that the last few minutes [with neither team able to pull away], things happen," Gary Williams said.
Asked to assess his team, which lacks the three leading scorers from last season's ACC regular season co-championship squad, the coach accentuated the positive, noting, "No one has put us away yet."
But it's also true that outside of Jordan Williams, Maryland has yet to find a shooter who can be relied on in clutch situations the way that Greivis Vasquez was last season.
Stoglin, who comes off the bench five or six minutes into games, doesn't flinch at pressure. He took 17 shots against Boston College, including the potential game-tying three-pointer with 17 seconds left and plenty of time remaining on the shot clock.
Asked if it was the shot he wanted, Gary Williams chose instead to compliment Stoglin on his heart.
"Terrell tries to win, okay?" the coach said. "It's just like when Greivis was a freshman; he's trying to win the game. I have to give him credit for that. I like guys on my team that want to win. And Terrell is one of those people."
That said, when the Terps return to practice, Williams said he planned to emphasize executing the offense as scripted.
"When we execute our plays, we seem to be able to score, which is more of an importance this year," he said. "Last year we had a situation where we had a player [Vasquez] that could score even when the offense broke down. We have to do it a little bit differently this year."
Sunday's ACC opener brought the first big-game atmosphere to Comcast Center this season, and the Terps opened with an urgency that had been lacking in previous starts.
A reverse layup by Stoglin gave the Terps their biggest lead, 33-28. and the arena erupted.
With roughly three minutes remaining in the first half, more than half of Boston College's shots (14 of 27) were from three-point range.
Maryland took a 41-39 lead to the break.
The lead swung back and forth in the second half, with neither team able to get ahead by more than five points. Boston College hit from long range; Jordan Williams and Gregory answered under the rim.
Adrian Bowie didn't make his first basket until roughly three minutes remained. One minute later, he scored again of a fast break, putting Maryland up, 75-72 with 2:44 to play.
Cliff Tucker and Stoglin went 0 for 3 from the free-throw line as the clock wound down. And Boston College (8-2, 1-0) scored seven unanswered points to close the game.