Ninth-ranked Maryland tied the score on Buck Williams' three-point play in regulation, then ran off 16 overtime points last night for an emotional 82-75 victory over Atlantic Coast Conference rival North Carolina State before 12,745 in Cole Field House.
With the Terrapins trailing, 66-63, Williams rebounded a missed Albert King shot with 51 seconds remaining in regulation, scored a layup and sank a free throw after being fouled by State's Craig Watts to tie the game. State played for the final shot, but all the Wolfpack could get was an off-balance 22-footer at the buzzer.
Maryland controlled the jump ball to begin overtime and, after an exchange of turnovers, led the rest of the way after King, who scored 29 points on 11-for-16 shooting, banked a 10-footer to put Maryland ahead, 68-66.
"I've been coaching for 25 years," said Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell, "and this is probably the greatest comeback a team of mine ever made. I thought they handled themselves very well in the overtime. Any time you can come back from 10 points down with six or seven minutes remaining and win, it's the mark of good team."
Maryland's frantic comeback spoiled the conference coaching debut of North Carolina State's Jim Valvano, who watched his team make up a nine-point halftime deficit to lead Maryland by 10, 61-51, with 6:35 left in regulation.
Valvano said he didn't think the 7-foot Watts fouled Williams with 51 seconds left to send the Terrapin center to the free throw line for the trying point.
"My kid (Watts) said he backed off, that he didn't even jump with Buck," said Valvano, disappointed but proud that his unranked team gave Maryland such a struggle on the road. "It was such a critical call. I may get in trouble for saying this, but I don't think he touched Buck. So he gets the layup. At 63-62 we've got the ball."
Valvano said he called timeout before that last Maryland regulation possession to discuss his team's defensive alignment. "I asked them what defense they felt comfortable in and they said a man-to-man," Valvano said. "The only thing I stressed was that we couldn't allow a three-point play, whatever we did. I thought we played as well as we could the second half."
Early, it seemed as if the Wolfpack (5-2) was overmatched. Maryland (6-1) scored the first seven points and rode to a 39-30 halftime lead on the strength of scoring by King and Williams (nine-for-10, 22 points for the game).
The Terps shot an incredible 80 percent the first half and 73 percent (30-for-41) for the game. Their tight man-to-man defense forced the patient Wolfpack to settle for 15- and 18-foot jump shots. State swingman Kenny Matthews nailed six of those jumpers for 12 first-half points, but didn't take one shot in the second half.
State's second-half resurgence was direct result of former De Matha High star Sidney Lowe's brutal penetration to the basket. The 6-foot point guard scored 18 points, 14 in the second half, most of them on layups after he flew past Maryland defenders Reggie Jackson or Dutch Morley.
When Lowe wasn't scoring, he was passing the ball back out to Thurl Bailey, Art Jones, Watts or Wittenburg for easy baskets.
"We let Lowe penetrate too much," Driesell said. "When the game gets tight he likes to drive to the hole. Reggie was on him for awhile, then Dutch. But after them we don't have anybody who can guard Lowe."
Lowe had a chance to win the game himself with his off-balance, 22-foot jomp shot from left of the key with no time remaining in regulation after Valvano had called another timeout with 10 seconds remaining to talk strategy. But the shot was not close and one could sense the Terrapins were destined to avoid their second straight loss.
"The emotions," said Valvano. "You can only go to the well so many times. We thought we could win the game if we kept the score in the 60s, and that's where we had it. But down the stretch we missed three front ends of the one-and-one (free throws) and the back end of another. That's five missed opportunities for points."
After King's overtime-opening field goal, Greg Manning (14 points) made two free throws and added four overtime points. Maryland was nine of 10 from the line during the extra period.
Williams, shooting 71.7 percent from the field, said Maryland's inside defense wasn't as good last night as it has been. "It was decent, but we need more work in that area."