This one really hurt. It hurt because Maryland was an intense, emotional and efficient basketball team for the first time in two weeks.
It hurt because a 10-point lead was blown. And it hurt because in the last minute today, the Terrapins had one chance after another to win, only to lose to Duke, the team it likes the least, 55-54.
Duke guard Tom Emma hit two foul shots with three seconds left to give the Blue Devils their margin of victory. Emma got to the line because Chip Engelland's 22-foot shot from the left-hand corner hit the rim and bounded over the heads of Maryland's rebounders, who had position underneath.
It went to the 6-foot-2 Emma, who immediately went up to shoot and was fouled by Dutch Morley. "It was close," Morley said. "But close meant it wasn't close."
Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell called time to give Emma, Duke's best free throw shooter (85 per cent), time to think about the job he had to do. With the capacity crowd of 8,564 quiet for perhaps the first time all day, Emma made both shots.
"I knew I was going to make them," said Emma, who had five rebounds in the second half. "Foul shooting is the thing I do best."
Greg Manning took the ensuing inhounds pass at midcourt, and, with nobody near him, got to within 28 feet before thorwing up a shot. Referee Joe Forte's hand was in the air to indicate the shot would count as the ball rimmed the hoop, seemed to go in, then came spinning back out.
That set off a wild midcourt celebration as the stunned Terps watched in disbelief. The scene was reminiscent of last year's ACC tournament, another Duke one-point victory, another Maryland shot shot just missing at the buzzer.
"I was supposed to call time out when I got to midcourt," manning said. "But when I got the ball there was nobody around me so I just went. I didn't go in. I should have called time out. If I had it to do over again, I sure would have called time."
The Terps would love to do many things over again. They played well, shooting 49 percent after a horrendous first five minutes (52 percent in the second half) but could not put Duke away. Now, with their Acc record at 5-4 and their overall mark 15-6, their once virtually automatic NCAA bid is in jeopardy. Suddenly, fifth-place Duke (4-5, 13-8), which has won six of its last seven, is a lot closer to the Terps than first-place Virginia.
"We played hard, we worked hard, I coached hard," said a clearly distraught Driesell. "We just ain't getting it done at the end of close games. This time it was inches."
For most of the afternoon, it didn't seem as if inches or a close finish would be involved. Duke was awful the first half, shooting just 33 percent from the floor. Only Vince Taylor, five of six from the floor, kept the score respectable as the Terps led, 28-22, at the half.
Quickly, the six-point lead became 10 during the first 90 seconds of the second half as Albert King (10 points on four-of-10 shooting from the field) hit a 17-footer to make it 34-24. Duke made a run to cut it to 34-32, but then the Terps got their transition game working briefly, helped by two terrible passes by Duke center Mike Tissaw.
King's last field goal of the game with 15:10 left made it 36-32, then baskets by Graham, Manning and Graham opened it back to 42-32 with 12:40 to go.
Duke looked dead.
"Same thing as always," said Graham high man for the Terps with 16 points even though he fouled out with 10:12 left. "We get ahead, then we always let them get back in. That's the mystery now. Why?"
Many of the terps thought the answer lay with the officials -- "They were terrible," said Reggie Jackson -- who called eight fouls, including Graham's fifth and King's fourth before calling a second-half foul on Duke. But the Blue Devils, especially Banks, created many of those fouls by consistently taking the ball to the basket.
Banks, with 19 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and a superb defensive job on King, was the reason Duke upset the nation's 14th-ranked team on a day when Bank's running mate, Kenny Dennard, hit three of 10 from the floor and got one rebound.
With Banks doing the work, the Blue devils ran off 10 points in four minutes, tying the game on a Tissaw layup off a Banks feed with 8:37 to go.
Then it went back and forth.
Manning (14 points) hit a jumper and Charles Pittman hit a short turnaround in the lane to make the lead four again. But Banks hit two jumpers and Dennard finally hit a bomb from the corner, tying it again at 48-48 with 5:23 left.
At 52-52 with 2:23 remaining, dennard dribbled the ball off his foot in Duke's spread offense. The Terps came down and spread out, calling time with 1:27 left. It appeared they were holding for the last shot. But with one minute left King tried an eight-foot baseline shot. It rolled off off the rim and Emma got the rebound.
"I really didn't want that shot," Driesell said. "I told them if they had a layup, fine, if not, let's hold for the last shot."
I thought it was a good shot," King said. "It just didn't go in."
As the excitment grew, Driesell ordered Morley to foul Dennard, a 47 percent foul shooter. But as he did so, Morley bowled over Dennard and the 6-8 senior came up "hurt." That allowed Duke coach Mike Kryzyewski to send in Jim Suddath to shoot the one-and-one. Suddath, only four of seven this year but an 80 percent career shooter, hit the first, then missed the second with 45 seconds left.
The Terps called time again, then got the ball to Manning out front. Manning drove the middle, threw up an off balance prayer from 10 feet and watched it bank in as Tissaw fouled him with 17 seconds left. It was 54-53, Maryland, and manning -- Mr. Reliable -- at the foul line. He missed. Banks rebounded with 13 seconds left.
Time out Duke. The Blue Devils' engelland didn't get a very good shot, but the high bounce put the ball in Emma's hands and he took if from there.
"I don't know what we have to do," said Buck Williams, who had eight points but pulled down 14 rebounds as Duke's inside defense consistantly denied him the ball. "We played hard, but it still wasn't enough. This one really hurst because it was Duke, and because it was so emotional the whole day."
And because, after 40 minutes of black-and-blue basketball, the Terps came out of this madhouse with nothing.
"It has to hurt them a lot," said Banks, who tried to get into the Maryland locker room to see his old friend King, only to be turned away. "I know how I would have felt if Manning's shot had gone in."
It would have hurt. For Maryland, it did.