Wake Forest guard Mark Dale, with a career scoring average of 2.4 points, produced 18 points and directed the slowdown Demon Deacons to a 66-60 upset of Maryland yesterday at Cole Field House.
Using a four-corner spread offense the entire game, Wake (7-5) stopped the Terrapins' winning streak at eight games and left them 10-3 overall and 1-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Wake Forest's other starting guard, Frank Johnson, led all scorers with 23 points, but it was Dale's performance that destroyed the 20th-ranked Terrapins.
Making only his third start of the year, the 5-foot-8 senior masterfully quarterbacked Wake's deliberate offense and came up with key baskets.
Wake took the lead for good midway through the first half because Dale was able to dribble around Maryland's Greg Manning, Dutch Morley and Reggie Jackson for easy baskets.
Then Wake kept the Terps completely out of the game, using the slowdown to hold the ball and keep Maryland from attaining any offensive rhythm.
The Terrapins became impatient, forced shots and hit just 45 percent from the floor, compared with Wake's 60 percent.
Ernest Graham, Maryland's leading scorer and 52.6 percent shooter, did not hit a basket until the second half and finished with 11 points. He made only five of 13 from the floor. Maryland's guards combined for just 24 points.
Only Al King's 10-fo-19 shooting kept the Terrapins close in a game they figured to dominate. Wake was struggling at 6-5 coming into the contest, coming off a 13-point loss, at home, to Virginia.
But Dale kept dribbling, passing, driving and directing in a virtually mistake-free performance.
"Dale was beating us one-on-one and we (Maryland guards) weren't getting any help on defense," Morley said.
"They (Wake guards) were quick, but that's not the point," Jackson said. "In a situation like that you have to have a big man step up and help."
Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell, however, ordered his big men to stay on their men, not to help out.
"There are many ways to play against it (the four-corner offense), and if someone like Phil Ford was running it, then you have your big men help out," Driesell said. "But I didn't think we'd need that much help with Dale. He's the guy who killed us.
"If your big men help out too much, then the guards just pass off to their big men. We did not really expect them to play this way; maybe we should have worked against it more.
"It's not really basketball. I don't enjoy playing that way. But it's legal and we have to learn to play against it. We have to learn to be patient on offense in a game like that."
"I felt things had been going badly for us when we tried to play from behind," Wake Coach Carl Tacy said, "so I wanted to try and keep control of the game.
"I told them (Friday) that we would use it (the spread)," Tacy said, "and I'm sure they were a little concerned. As a fast-break team, it's probably the last thing they wanted to hear.
"But I prefaced it with the explanation that we wanted to control the tempo. They understood and accepted it well... winning is more important than style."
Dale, who wasn't thrilled when he first heard of Tacy's plan, came into the game having hit seven of 20 field goals this season. Yesterday he was eight for 11.
"I've always been a good shooter," said Dale, who was benched for last Wednesday's loss to Virginia in Wake's ACC opener. "After Wednesday night, I was tired of the whole thing -- tired of playing bad, tired of losing.
"I just wanted to play. It was a great feeling, having that spirit and desire back in my soul."
The Terrapins felt as low as Dale was high.
"I'm tired of teams holding the ball," Jackson said. "If they can't run with us, then they shouldn't play with us."
"We didn't show a great effort," Graham said. "This was our first day game. Maybe we weren't awake. They showed me they don't want to play with us."
"We don't like to play against it (the four corners)," King said, "but there's no excuse."