Maryland lost to North Carolina for the eighth straight time tonight, 76-67, in Carmichael Auditorium.
The Terrapins did their part to keep the streak alive by dribbling and passing the ball as if it were a struggling fish. Then the Tar Heels delivered the blow at the foul line, scoring their last 11 points with 11-of-12 accuracy.
Maryland lost its third straight game and fell to 3-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, playing more patiently than it has all year. The Terps outrebounded the Tar Heels (7-2 in ACC) and shot 55 percent from the floor, but it seemed as if every time a Maryland pass went into the air, a Carolinian came up with it.
The Terrapins lost the ball 20 times, and two key turnovers broke open what had been a tight game.
Carolina, now 17-4 overall, led by eight points early in the first half, but Maryland pecked away and led, 42-40, with 15:36 remaining.The lead changed hands eight times in the second half before Carolina went ahead to stay, 59-57.
With the score tied at 57, Ernest Graham committed one of his six turnovers trying to pass across the lane, and Dudley Bradley, Carolina's garbage-collector supreme, raced to an uncontested dunk for the first two points of a six-point streak.
Maryland brought the ball downcourt after Bradley's steal-dunk and Greg Manning, dribbling to the hoop, was called for charging. Maryland's entire bench argued the call to no avail.
"I didn't even touch him." Manning said later.
Carolina capitalized at its end with Ged Doughton's 22-foot jumper and, after A1 Wood blocked John Bilney's shot and Graham misfired from 19 feet, Larry Gibson was called for a foul and Carolina went into the four corners.
The purpose of the move at that point was to draw Maryland out of its zone, and once that worked, Tar Heel forward Mike O'Koren celebrated his birthday by driving right around Buck Williams for an easy score and a 63-57 lead with 6:06 left.
Maryland hit two of its next seven shots but, with 1:22 left, O'Koren took part in the 11-point free-throw parade, hitting both of his for a 68-61 lead with 1:22 left.
The Terps were forced to foul from then on to break up the stall, and Carolina went eight for eight at the line the rest of the way.
"We're pretty good at the freethrow line," said O'Koren, who scored five of his 19 points on foul shots.
Al Wood was 11 of 17 from the floor for 23 points, shooting mostly outside Maryland's zone.But Carolina also had a decisive advantage at the foul line, taking 19 trips and hitting 14 while Maryland, now 14-8, had to settle for hitting its one free throw.
"We shoot one free throw and they shoot 19. I'm getting sick of it," said Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell. "There were an awful lot of questionable calls."
Someone asked what it would take to beat Carolina.
"A little luck," said Driesell, "like they had against us."
Driesell also pointed to his team's turnover situation. He tried to rectify matters by starting Greg Manning at point guard in place of Reggie Jackson in the second half. But Jackson's three turnovers were by no means tops. Manning had five but insisted that on two charge calls, "I never touched the man. I don't know what the refs are thinking." Manning led Maryland in scoring with 19.
"I may be a fool," said Driesell, "but I told our guys that if we stop turning the ball over we'll beat anybody in the ACC and anybody in the country. This game was closer than nine points. And we will be heard from at (ACC) tournament time."
The Terps did some things better than they have in a while, so Manning was asked if he was encouraged.
"No," said Manning, "It's just frustrating as hell, really."