Maryland built a 10-point lead early in the second half on 70 percent shooting, but needed an alert defensive play by Jeff Adkins and eight foul shots in the last 39 seconds to defeat William and Mary, 50-43, tonight before 6,600 in The Hall.
Freshman Adrian Branch, who had made a three-point play to tie the game, gave Maryland (11-6) a 42-40 lead by making two free throws after being fouled by guard Billy Barnes. After a William and Mary timeout, Barnes, from St. John's High School, took the ball out of bounds with 39 seconds remaining.
Barnes could find none of his teammates open, and with the allotted five seconds about to elapse, he tried to bounce the ball off Adkins' leg and out of bounds, so William and Mary could get another five seconds.
But Adkins knew that Barnes was desperate. So the Maryland player put his hands in front of his knees and slid back, just in time to tip Barnes' ricochet attempt.
Adkins stole the ball and passed to Dutch Morley, who was fouled. Morley, who has made 21 straight free throws this season, made the one-and-one with 27 seconds left, to give Maryland a 44-40 lead.
"I just barely got a hand on the ball, and it hit the floor," said Adkins, who scored a game-high 16 points. "I was expecting him to try bouncing the ball off me, because his five seconds were running out."
Usually, Maryland doesn't guard the trigger man, but Coach Lefty Driesell said he decided in that particular situation to apply as much pressure as possible.
Barnes made one of two free throws with 17 seconds left to pull the Indians (9-6) to within 44-41. But Branch made two free throws with 14 seconds left, Morley made two more with four seconds to play, and Charles Pittman scored a layup at the buzzer.
The Terrapins shot 60 percent for the game, but, more important, made 10 of 11 free throws. Branch, who failed to score in double figures (nine points) for the first time in his college career, was five for five from the free throw line and committed only one turnover in 35 minutes, even though he handled the ball frequently late in the game.
Maryland missed 11 of 20 free throws Saturday in losing to Notre Dame by four points. Since then, Driesell has emphasized free throw shooting in practice and brought the team into William and Mary Hall for an hour of free throw shooting today.
"I'd have been foolish not to emphasize free throws after that Notre Dame game," Driesell said. "I may not be able to teach a player how to block shots or how to shoot like John Lucas, but I can teach him how to shoot free throws. If we had hit our foul shots in Notre Dame, we would have won that game, too."
The Terrapins made 14 of 20 field goal attempts in the first half, but led only 28-24 at intermission because William and Mary made 57 percent of its first-half shots.
But Maryland's lead increased to 34-24 in the first two minutes of the second half, as the Terrapins played good defense and took advantage of four fouls by the Indians.
William and Mary Coach Bruce Parkhill then called timeout. The Indians outscored Maryland, 14-1, in the next nine minutes to take a 38-35 lead. Maryland missed five shots and committed two turnovers during that time.
But Branch muscled inside for a layup and subsequent free throw, which tied the contest, 40-40, with 7:02 to play. The Indians ran the clock down to 3:56, but Barnes double-dribbled. Maryland, behind the superb ball handling of Morley (10 points) and Adkins, took possession and ran the clock down to 54 seconds before Branch made his free throws to put the Terrapins ahead for good.