NCAA basketball: Maryland tops N.C. State at ACC tournament

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 11, 2011; 12:52 AM

GREENSBORO, N.C. - It had been more than a month since Maryland opened a game on a torrid shooting pace, staved off a rally with stout defense and led start to finish en route to a convincing victory.

The first round of the ACC tournament proved an ideal occasion for remembering what it felt like to dominate an opponent so soundly.

With sophomore center Jordan Williams leading the way, seventh-seeded Maryland dismissed 10th-seeded North Carolina State, 75-67, Thursday at Greensboro Coliseum to snap a three-game losing streak and advance to a quarterfinal meeting with Duke, the tournament's No. 2 seed, Friday night.

It was Maryland's second victory over N.C. State this season and likely marked Sidney Lowe's final game as the Wolfpack's head coach. Lowe, who has yet to take his team to the NCAA tournament in five seasons, is widely expected to be fired in the coming weeks.

Meantime, Maryland (19-13) hopes to do the unprecedented: Win four games in four days to claim the ACC championship and the NCAA tournament berth that goes with it. Anything less will relegate the Terrapins to the National Invitation Tournament for the fourth time in the last seven years.

Thursday's victory marked the first step toward that improbable goal. It also delivered Maryland's third shot at Duke, the ACC foe its fans most love to hate. The Blue Devils (27-4) swept Maryland during the regular season.

But Maryland players offered no shortage of reasons why Friday's outcome could be different in the feel-good aftermath of their convincing victory over the Wolpack.

"Every team is beatable-especially in the ACC tournament," said senior swingman Cliff Tucker, who came off the bench to score nine points. "A tournament like this, teams are hungry. Teams can't come in here thinking it's just going to be easy. You come in here and play hard, you never know what happens."

Said Maryland Coach Gary Williams: "We'll show up, number one. Whatever happens, we'll be ready to play, I guarantee you that."

While Maryland never trailed, the game had plenty of ebbs and flows, with the Terps bolting to a 17-point lead in the first half and the Wolfpack (15-16) storming back multiple times, pulling within six points with 35 seconds remaining.

Jordan Williams notched a 24th double-double, finishing with a game-high 16 points and 13 rebounds. Senior forward Dino Gregory was the only other Terp in double figures, adding 11 points and six rebounds.

Gary Williams opened the ACC tournament with yet another tweak to his lineup, starting freshman Haukur Palsson for the second time this season.

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