So much for revenge. All week long Maryland talked about getting even with Georgia Tech. But all the Terrapins got was embarrassed again.
Maryland blew four chances to win in the final 26 seconds of regulation, the last two coming in the final seven seconds. And with four Maryland starters fouling out, including Ben Coleman and Adrian Branch, Georgia Tech had little trouble in overtime and left the Omni with a 64-58 victory in this first-round match of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Neither team played especially well. But the game grew very exciting when Maryland scored 10 straight point in the final five minutes and tied the score 52-all when freshman Len Bias made the second of two free throws with seven seconds left.
Georgia Tech had one more possession, but Mark Price committed a charging foul with one second left, giving the Terrapins another chance.
Jeff Adkins threw a 75-foot inbounds pass to Coleman, who caught the ball high above the basket and tried to guide it in softly, only to have it swirl around the the rim and fall off.
"I couldn't believe it didn't go in," said Adkins. "I guess we just weren't meant to win."
In overtime, Tech took the lead on three free throws, two by John Salley, the game's leading scorer with 16 points. The Yellow Jackets went ahead, 55-52, and never relinquished the lead.
But the game was really lost in the final few seconds of regulation.
Steve Rivers, who made three of five three-pointers, pulled the Terrapins within 52-51 with 2:18 left. And then the fun started.
Adkins drove the lane but lost the ball out of bounds with 26 seconds left. But Adkins stole a pass three seconds later. Rivers then took a pass and stepped on the sideline with 20 seconds left.
Salley gave Maryland another chance by missing a one-and-one bonus free throw set with 14 seconds left. Maryland ran the clock down to :07 and got a pass into Bias, who barely missed what would have been the game winning shot, while being fouled.
"It was getting ridiculous," said Maryland forward Adrian Branch. "We were just neutralizing each others' turnovers. We kept getting it back, then giving it away. They kept getting it back, and giving it away."
Branch then took a look at his stats for the night: three of 10 from the field, one assist and four turnovers. "Ugly stats," he said. "Just ridiculous." Branch could have also been referring to Maryland's 41-percent shooting mark.
Branch also said the team missed Herman Veal, the junior cocaptain whose dormitory conduct code violation has made him ineligible for the rest of the season.
"I really did miss Herman. I think we all did," said Branch. "He makes us feel much better in tough situations like tonight."
Coach Lefty Driesell, the embattled Lefthander this week, couldn't quite pinpoint the problem.
"I don't know what our problem was," Driesell said. "I thought we did a good job of getting into overtime, but after that we were awful. We just kicked the ball away and played like a bunch of clowns. It was like a circus out there. We did everything wrong."
So while Tech (13-14) moved into Saturday's 3:30 semifinal match with Virginia (26-3), Maryland went home to think about an opening round loss for the second straight year.
The only consolation is that this year, even with tonight's loss, Maryland will most probably be invited to the NCAA tournament. If North Carolina defeats North Carolina State in Saturday's first semifinal, the Terrapins would finish two games better than State in overall record. Maryland is 19-9, State is 18-10.