Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Brad Davis dropped in an eight-foot jump shot with three seconds to play and gained Maryland's mercurial Terrapins an 81-80 Atlantic Coast Conference triumph over Wake Forest tonight.
The outcome, in a game that again typified the best and the worst of Maryland's young, erratic basketball players, denied Wake its anticipated clinching of at least a tie for its first regular-season title in 15 years.
In fact, it gave Maryland an outside shot at tying for first place and getting the first-round bye in next week's conference tournament here. Wake is 8-3 in ACC play, North Carolina 7-3, Maryland and Clemson at 7-4.
North Carolina State, 5-5 and as young and erratic as Maryland, holds the key. The Wolfpack plays North Carolina Wednesday night at Chapel Hill and Wake Forest Saturday at Raleigh.
Maryland's strategy worked brilliantly most of the night. The Terps clogged the middle with Larry Gibson excelling and made Wake the perimeter-shooting team the Deacons used to be. For the opening 16 minutes, Maryland's offensive control was superb, and the Terps led by as many as 12 points.
With three minutes left in the first half, Maryland coach Lefty Driesell ordered a stall, which he later admitted was a coaching blunder "because I got scared." The Terps never regained their overwhelming offensive momentum, committing 16 of their 19 turnovers in the final 23 minutes.
An exchange of turnovers - Turk Tillman losing the handle on the ball at one end but stealing it back from Jerry Schellenberg at the other end with 18 seconds to play set up Davis' winning shot.
The Terps called time-out at 0:11. Driesell ordered a simple little two-on-two offensive plan against the Deacons with Gibson setting a pick for Brad Davis and then rolling to the basket.
Davis had three options: pass to Gibson for the layup, penetrate and pass back out to Brian Magid at the top of the key for the final shot, or to shoot.
"They played the option for Gibson. I thought Brian's man might double-team me, but he didn't. So I knew I had to shoot it," said Davis. "When it went up I knew it was in."
Had Maryland been able to keep its offensive control, this victory would have been an overwhelming tribute to Gibson (18 points, 12 rebounds, five blocked shots) and Lawrence Boston (16 points, 11 rebounds).
"We just made some mistakes we shouldn't," was the way Tillman put it.
Nevertheless, the Terps are 19-6 and within reach of Driesell's sixthe straight 20-victory season by winning Saturday at Virginia - while still grasping for the consistency that Wake Forest showed all season, until these last couple of weeks.
Schellenberg rediscovered his jump shot for the first time in eight games and led Wake Forest with 22 points, but power forward Rod Griffin of the Deacons again showed why he should be voted the league's most valuable player.
He had 19 points - on seven-for-16 shooting that was poor for this normal 64.6 per cent marksman - and 14 rebounds. But he almost singlehandedly accounted for getting first Mike Davis and then Boston in foul trouble. Both eventually fouled out, leaving Maryland with a makeshift lineup at the end.
The possession preceding Tillman's exchange of turnovers perhaps showed best what Brad Davis was talking about when he noted what this first major ACC road win meant to the Terps' confidence and said, "We've been on a roller coaster the whole season."
Griffin had made two free throws to cut Maryland's margin to 79-78, with 1:17 to play. Maryland called time, and Wake came back pressing full court. Gibson threw the inbounds pass to the rusty Billy Bryant, a freshman just recovered from a broken hand.
Skip Brown and Larry Harrison double-teamed Bryant on the sideline. With a jump ball about to be invoked, Bryant unleashed a wild over-the-shoulder pass toward the Maryland foul line. Wake's Leroy McDonald grabbed it and made the basket to put Wake ahead, 80-79.
Then Tillman made things more exciting before Brad Davis, the only Terrapin left from Maryland's regular-season champions of two seasons ago, made the game winner.
"That's about the way they all are," said Mike Davis, describing the ending.