Last-shot specialist Larry Gibson tossed up a 12-foot turnaround jumper from the lane that bounced off the rim and fell through the basket after the buzzer sounded to lift sluggish Maryland to a 54-53 victory over Wake Forest tonight.
On a night when the Terrapins shot like a band of overweight YMCA players, Gibson duplicated the last-second heroics that brought Maryland an upset victory over Notre Dame last month.
Against Notre Dame, it was a three-point play that produced a one-point win, Maryland's most precious of this up-and-down season.
Tonight, after trailing for all but a few seconds of the game at Greensboro Coliseum, Maryland had the ball and three seconds in which to produce a winning basket.
Hot-shooting guard Greg Manning was on the bench with badly bruised lower back muscles sustained in a fall in the first half. It was not known if he will be able to play against Virginia Saturday.
Dutch Morley, under Wake's basket, inbounded the ball on a bounce pass to A1 King in the back court and King called time.
With two seconds left, Morley took the ball from the official near midcourt and finally heaved to Buck Williams, standing near the top of the circle.
The ball sailed just over Williams' fingertips and Gibson had to lunge for it. Without being fully aware of his position, Gibson whirled around and shot the ball, and it bounced three times on the rim before dropping in after the buzzer.
The victory boosted Maryland's records to 17-8 overall and 6-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, while Wake fell to 12-13 and 3-8.
"The pass was meant to go to Buck," said Morley. "I guess you could say it was a prayer. I don't mind throwing passes but I don't want to throw that one again."
"I had to reach out and grab the ball so Alvis Rogers wouldn't get it," said Gibson. "I wasn't thinking about where I was. There was just one thing to do. I grabbed it and shot it.
"Yeah, I thought the shot was going in. Really."
Gibson had no particular explanation as to what kind of special skill is involved in last-second victory shots.
"There's no secret. That's just the way the ball bounces," he said. "As long as I keep making them, I don't mind shooting them."
Gibson, bothered by tendinitis in one knee, was one of the few Terrapins who had a good night shooting, hitting five of eight for 10 points. Williams led the Terps with 13 points and 14 rebounds, grabbing the missed free throw of Guy Morgan, with three seconds left, giving Maryland the chance to call time out and plan a final shot.
Morgan was shooting one on one and could have iced the game for Wake if he made both shots. But the freshman missed the first and, just as Williams leaped above the lane and caught the rebound, Morley signaled time.
Wake led by as many as eight points in the first half, thanks partly to nine of 29 shooting by Maryland in the half.
The Terrapins led for the first time in the second half by a point with 5:43 left, and again 50-49 with 3:17 left.
But Morgan, who scored 13 for the night, put Wake back on top, stealing a rebound from Williams and laying it in. A two-shot foul was called against Morley, but Morgan missed both free throws.
After a Maryland turnover, Frank Johnson, who led Wake in scoring with 18 points, hit two free throws to put the Deacons up, 53-50, with 2:30 left.
Gibson hit from the lane to cut the margin to one, and then Wake lost the ball in the four-corners with 1:12 left.
Maryland held the ball for a last shot, but Wake center Larry Harrison blocked Gibson's shot and Williams missed a follow-up, Gibson was called for a foul underneath, sending Morgan to the line for his fateful miss.
Wake hit 11 of 20 free throws.
"I feel badly for our players," said Wake Coach Carl Tacy. "It was another case of losing a lot of ground by not hitting our free throws. Free throws were particularly important when we were running our delay game and looking for a good shot.
"Morley's inbounds play was awful close to a five-second count call. We really thought we had it."
"I am really proud of our team," said Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell. "I knew we would come back if we played to our capabilities in the second half. Wake Forest had us playing their game. Any time you win a close one, it is a mark of a good team.
"On our last play, our first option was to get it to Ernest Graham for a jump shot. The second option was Gibson underneath."
Graham, Maryland's leading scorer over the season with a 17.3 average, remained in his shooting slump, hitting one of five shots. He has scored a total of four points in the last three games.
King was the only other player besides Gibson and Williams in double figures for maryland, with 11 points.