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Memories: 1995

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It's Double Elimination: Terps, Hoyas Ousted

By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
March 24, 1995

OAKLAND, CALIF., MARCH 23 -- The end for the Maryland Terrapins didn't come quickly with some last-second drama. It came slowly, stretched out over a 40-minute game tonight against the Connecticut Huskies. The signs were all there: guard Johnny Rhodes shaking his head in disgust on defense; center Joe Smith twirling around in frustration after throwing away a pass; Coach Gary Williams fiercely signaling for timeouts when he most hated to.

It all added up to the third-seeded Terrapins falling to the second-seeded Huskies, 99-89, in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament's West regional at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena.

When it was over, and Smith had left with 29.6 seconds left after totaling 22 points and 14 rebounds, one could only wonder if it was the final college game for the sophomore all-American. But he provided no clues.

"I don't know right now," he said. "I haven't made a decision. Nothing at all."

Said Williams: "The only thing I want for Joe is for him to think of as many things as possible before he makes his decision. I'm going to tell him what I think after I get as much information as possible."

Tonight, Smith and the Terrapins were outpaced and outshot by the Huskies, who got 27 points from forward Donny Marshall and 18 from forward Ray Allen to advance to the regional final against top-seeded UCLA at 3:40 p.m. Saturday. The Bruins got 21 points from senior all-American forward Ed O'Bannon and 10 points and eight assists from point guard Tyus Edney to whip fifth-seeded Mississippi State, 86-67, in the first game. The Bruins are one victory away from their first Final Four since 1980.

With Smith playing only 14 minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, the Terrapins fell behind by 13 points as the Huskies used a lightning-quick transition game to push the ball upcourt. But a late run by the Terrapins left them trailing 49-41 at the half, and two quick baskets to open the second half drew Maryland within 49-45.

But the Huskies then scored six straight points, and Williams called time out with 17 minutes 49 seconds left and his team trailing 55-45. The Terrapins came out and scored two quick baskets, but the Huskies answered with an 11-2 spurt, packing a zone defense back on Smith and getting three-pointers by Allen and Marshall.

That made it 66-51, and Williams refused to call another timeout. But he had little choice after Marshall made two baskets in transition, stretching U-Conn.'s lead to 70-51 with 12:20 left.

"I thought U-Conn. looked quicker than we looked," Williams said. "We looked slow and a little afraid of their break sometimes. . . . The thing they do is when they get a chance in transition, they finish. Marshall and Allen don't let you off the hook."

Said Connecticut Coach Jim Calhoun: "Our game plan was to do a couple of different things. Number one was to attack all pressure. Knowing Gary, they pressure about as well as anyone in the country, but our goal was to defeat the pressure by scoring."

Smith scored six points as Maryland used an 11-4 run to cut the lead to 74-62 with 9:03 left. With the help of some missed free throws by the Huskies, the Terrapins inched closer, coming within 78-68 with 6:10 left.

But Maryland forward Exree Hipp had picked up his fifth foul trying to draw a charge with 6:24 left. The Terrapins's most versatile defender -- who was trying to guard Allen and Marshall at different times -- was through.

Maryland kept scoring but was unable to stop the Huskies from scoring. When Rhodes made a three-pointer with 3:52 left, the Terrapins were within 88-77. But U-Conn. guard Kevin Ollie promptly made two free throws.

After a television timeout, the Terrapins got quick baskets from Smith and reserve forward Mario Lucas -- both the result of steals by Maryland.

The Huskies, though, got a huge play when Allen rebounded his own miss and fed center Travis Knight for a dunk. On the other end, Terrapins guard Wayne Bristol missed a three-pointer. Point guard Duane Simpkins got the rebound, but his driving layup attempt was blocked by Knight. Knight came up with the rebound, was fouled and made two free throws to put his team up 94-81 with 2:14 left and all but guarantee the outcome.

"I just want to say how proud I am of this team," Williams said. "We had 26 wins this season, and 27 is the school record. . . . What we did this year and with the attention we received, I couldn't be more proud of what this team has done for the school and for the state of Maryland."

For UCLA (28-2), a trip to the Final Four would go a long way toward helping seventh-year coach Jim Harrick alter his reputation as a coach who can't win important NCAA tournament games. Last season, the Bruins were upset by Tulsa, 112-102, in the first round.

UCLA lost to Indiana, 106-79, in the 1992 West regional final, and the season before, it was upset by 13th-seeded Penn State, 74-69, in an opening-round game in Syracuse, N.Y.

Mississippi State (22-8), which was led by Darryl Wilson's 22 points, completed its finest season ever. The Bulldogs had never won a game in the NCAA tournament before this year, losing in the opening rounds in 1963 and 1991.

In the nightcap, the Huskies opened with a transition game that caught the Terrapins looking a bit sluggish, and a three-pointer from Allen gave Connecticut a 7-1 lead.

But Maryland can play the transition game as well, and perhaps no Terrapin thrives in the open court more than the lithe Hipp. He scored five points, including a conventional three-point play, as Maryland drew within 13-12 with 15:57 left.

Yet while Hipp was roaming free, Smith was being double- and triple-teammed as U-Conn. showed a zone defense with 7-foot center Knight in the middle.

"We used more zone tonight than we have in a long time," Calhoun said. "That was a gamble we had to take with Joe Smith inside."

Said Smith: "I really didn't expect them to come out in a zone. . . . In the beginning, I had trouble. It seemed like a struggle for me to rebound and to score."

After a timeout, the Huskies went on a 9-0 run. Allen's layup off a fast break capped that run and forced Williams to call a timeout with U-Conn. ahead 22-12 with 13:23 left.

When play resumed, the Terrapins went right to Smith, who made a baseline jumper. After Allen answered with a jumper, Smith followed his own miss for a layup and seemed to be heating up. But after both teams made three-pointers, Smith blocked a shot by Huskies reserve guard Brian Fair, fell hard on his right hip, then rolled over on his stomach in obvious pain.

Play continued, but after the Terrapins missed a shot, the officials stopped play because Smith was still on the floor under Maryland's basket. He got up and went to the bench limping slightly.

"It was a shock . . . but you can't be hurt in a game like this," Smith said. "You have to keep playing."

When he returned, the Terrapins trailed 31-23, and on the next play, he missed a jumper from the foul line, and the Huskies proceeded to stretch the lead to 37-23.

The Huskies still led 47-34 when the Terrapins put themselves in position for a second-half run with a 7-2 burst.

© 1995 The Washington Post Company

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