The faces of the Maryland players and Coach Lefty Driesell clearly told the story of today's 74-63 victory by Virginia in the final ACC game for both teams at University Hall.
Like Virginia, which finished with a record of 13-1 in theconference and 24-2 overall, Maryland (8-6, 18-8) was looking for a victory here to gain momentum going into the ACC tournament beginning Thursday at Capital Centre.
But the combination of a testy Cavalier defense, anchored by Ralph Sampson, and three whistle-happy officials was just a bit too much for the Terps to overcome.
The officiating crew of Harlon Voyles, Bill Graeber and Gerry Donaghy called 33 personal fouls on Maryland; four players fouled out and two othershad four. They called 12 fouls against The Cavaliers. Virginia made 26 of 37 shots at the free-throw line, including its final 13 pionts, to wipe out any hope of a Maryland comeback.
Virginia's Jeff Lamp, who received a tremendous ovation during a post-game celebration, led his team with 18 points. Sampson, who led the cheers from the bench in the first half as Coach Terry Holland showed a bit of class by starting three senior reserves, scored 17 points, had 11 reserves, scored 17 points, had 11 rebounds and blocked nine shots in 32 minutes.
"It was a very emotional time for us, but I thought we played pretty well down the stretch," said Lamp, who had 12 of his points in a 33-33 first half. "We didn'tchange much in the second half, except harder defense. Maryland fouled us quite a bit, especially at the end. And we just made the shots."
Virginia got four baskets from Jeff Jones and two by Othell Wilson and the hosts led, 48-45, with 9:47 remaining. Reggie Jackson's only basket of the day pulled Maryland within a point 20 seconds later, but the restof the game belonged to Virginia.
Sampson tipped in a miss, made two free throws and dominated the boards as Virginia led, 59-51, with 5:32 left.
Steve Rivers made three long shots in the final seven minutes but the Maryland fouls had begun to mount and the Virginia free throws began coming in bunches. After a Rivers jump shot pulled Maryland within five with 1:39 to play, Sampson went to work again. He blocked two shots and made the first shot of three one and ones. The Cavaliers began to breathe easy again leading 65-59, with 1:01 to go.
"At the time we shot free throws very well," said Holland. "I don't think either team was pleased with the way they played. . . It was just one of those games that neither one could put any streak together."
Neither coach was especially pleased with the officiating.
"The conference has gotten a lot of negative criticism for bringing outside officials and I think we started the day with negative feelings," said Holland, who was called for a technical early in the contest. "I don't think it was a well officiatedgame."
Perhaps Maryland can look at its game plan, which included a lot of perimeter jump shots, and blame itself forthe second half. Then again, the blame may belong elsewhere.
"I guess the difference was Ralph blocking so many shots," said Maryland's Albert King, who had 14 points and six rebounds before fouling out with 34 seconds left. "You can't change your game when you play against them. If you stay outside and shoot jump shots all day, it will mess you up. You have to take the ball to him."
The player who was supposed to do just that was Buck Williams, but the Terps' main man inside watched three of his shot attempts come flying back past him and was never in the game. He scored only one basket in nine attempts to finish with two points.
"I thought we had momentum coming into the game, but we just didn'texecute too well," said Williams, who had six rebounds. "But we got in foul trouble and had to play tenative. I just hope we get to play them Friday."
Since these teams are inthe same bracket of the tournament, it's possible they would meet again in a semi-final. Should that happen, the Terps will definitely go at Sampson rather than rely on their outside game. Ernest Graham (19 points), Greg Manning (18 points) and King made enough jumpers from the perimeter in the first half to stay even, but it was a different story after intermission.
Sampson looked like three peole -- very large people -- standing in the lane as Williams, King and company decided the safest way to score was from long range. But the jumbers did not fall (Maryland made only 29 of 71 shots).Maryland shot only five free throws, all in the first half.
"We hung with them until there were five minutes left inthe game, and then the fouls got to us," Driesell said. "Buck had a bad day. He didn't play that much because of foultrouble. I guess you could say it was because of Sampson."
Sampson was at his best in the final minute. He blocked two shots, got the rebound on the latter and dribbled through the defenders before being fouled at midcourt. He made one of two free throws. Terry Gates, Wilson and Lee Raker allmade two shots from the line in the final 34 seconds to enable Virginia to tie the school record for most victories.
In the first round of the tournament Thursday, Wake Forest plays either Clemson or Duke at 11 a.m., Virginia plays Georgia Tech at 1:30, North Carolina plays North Carolina State at 7:30 and Maryland plays either Clemson or Duke at 9.