Jeff Lamp's 12-foot jump shot with six seconds left provided undefeated, second-ranked Virginia with a 66-64 victory over Maryland in an Atlantic Coast Conference game with a controversial finish in front of 14,500 stunned fans in Cole Field House last night.
Afterward, the talk in the Terrapin locker room was not about Ernest Graham's 20-foot jump shot that hit the back rim at the buzzer or Dutch Morley's missed free throw with 22 seconds left -- Maryland scored only four of a possible eight free-throw points, down the stretch -- but about a ruling of official Jim Knight that gave Lamp the opportunity for the winning shot.
"I don't even know who that referee was and I don't usually comment on officiating," Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell said, "but that guy stunk."
The referee in question was Knight and the call which left Driesell and his team in shock -- and 11-3, 3-2 in the ACC -- came with nine seconds to play, as Maryland was called for a five-second inbound violation, giving possession back to Virginia, which had tied the game on Lamp's 20-foot jumper before calling a timeout.
The scenario of the final minutes unfolded this way: With 2:09 left Lamp, who tied Graham for game high honors with 18 points, hit two free throws to cut a Maryland lead to 61-60.
The Terps came down and held until Morley was foulded with 1:11 left to play. The reliable junior, who twice last year clinched games in the final minutes with free throws, swished both shots and it was 63-60.
Virginia came down and Ralph Sampson, who missed four of his last five shots on a 15 point seven rebound night, missed a short jump shot. Graham, who left the game briefly with leg cramps, was fouled with 55 seconds left. But his free throw was way short. Buck Williams (15 points, 11 rebounds) back-tapped the rebound, but Graham fell down reaching for the ball and was called for traveling.
Virginia came down and Jeff Jones bombed one from 22 feet to cut it to 63-62 with 39 seconds to go. The Terps came down again and Morley was fouled with 22 seconds left.
Morley swished the first shot and the Maryland victory appeared inevitable.
But his second shot spun out.
"I thought they were going in, I was sure of it," Morley said. "I thought the last one was in, I guess I just hit the front rim a little too soft. We had him and we blew it. . . But we had help."
After Morley's miss the Cavaliers helped themselves to a tie at 64. They worked the ball to Lamp in the corner. His jumper went in, out and then dropped back in and it was even with nine seconds left. After the timeout, Virginia pressed the inbounds pass.
"Whenever I take the ball out of bounds in that situation I try to watch the officials hand and I always count to myself in my head,' Graham said. "As soon as I got to three I called time, but the guy wasn't even looking at me. He was turned the other way. How can you not be looking in a situation as important as that?"
Knight ruled that Graham's attempt to call timeout came during the fourth second of the five seconds Graham had to inbound. Under the rules once the count reaches the fourth second the inbounding player may not call time.
"It looked to me like he handed Ernest the ball and then turned right around and said Virginia ball," Driesell said.
Virginia Coach Terry Holland put Lamp back in the game and called timeout. Jones inbounded to Lamp on the left side. The 6-foot-6 senior took one dribble and went up. From behind Charles Pittman swiped at the ball, brushing Lamp. Lamp pumped a second time, then swished a 12-footer with six seconds left for a 66-64 Virginia lead.
"It wasn't a smart shot," Lamp said. "I should've either shot it as soon as I got it or passed it around to take some time off the clock."
No one in the Virginia locker room was complaining, though, as the Cavaliers (12-0, 4-0 in the ACC) celebrated their 17th straight victory over the last two seasons, longest winning streak in Division 1.
As soon as Lamp's shot went through, Maryland called time. Graham inbounded successfully this time but it was to Greg Manning (six points on a three-of-nine shooting night) just inbounds. By the time Manning dribbled past midcourt and called time again there were just two seconds left.
Now, the Terps set up their "end-of-the game" play. Morley inbounding, Manning coming across court to the corner, King and Graham standing together at the foul line with Graham popping out to the head of the key to take a pass.
Only during the time out, Driesell changed up. Instead of telling Graham, still in some pain from the cramps, to pop out for the pass, he told King to pop out. As the Terps came onto the court, King and Graham exchanged words.
"I've been doing it (popping out) for two years but in the huddle coach said for Albert to do it," Graham said. "When we came onto the court Albert said you do it, coach said for you to do it."
King said he was following orders from Driesell: "Coach changed it," King said. "He told Ernest, he changed it around when we got on to the court."
Manning was double-teamed in the corner so Morley's only option was Graham, who had beaten Virginia with an identical shot in Charlottesville a year ago. This time, though, the shot was too strong and Maryland had been beaten at home for the first time in 25 games, dating back to March, 1979.