This time, the other guys messed up. This time, Maryland made the big shots. And this time, the Terrapins got themselves a sweet victory instead of a bitter defeat against a top five team.
They defeated second-ranked Duke, 78-76, last night before 14,500 at Cole Field House. They did it by overcoming a 14-point halftime deficit in less than 10 minutes. They did it because Adrian Branch, one of the goats in last week's loss to North Carolina, hit a 15-foot base line jumper with three seconds left to send the game into overtime and then made two foul shots with eight seconds left in overtime to clinch the victory.
Most important, they won a game they had to to stay in the Atlantic Coast Conference race, making their conference record 2-1 and their overall mark 12-4. Duke is 2-1 in the league, 12-1 overall.
"When you come from 14 points behind against the No. 2 team in the country and win, that's a sweet victory," said Coach Lefty Driesell. "I was so mad at halftime I think I broke my toe kicking a clipboard. I told the players they played about the worst half I've seen in 29 years of coaching. They came back and played about the best half I think I've seen."
To a man, Maryland's players agreed they had rarely seen a man so angry as Driesell at half. "You can't print the things he said," Derrick Lewis said. "He was right, though. We were bad.
They were bad, Duke near-perfect. Guards Johnny Dawkins (30 points) and Tommy Amaker (12), each playing near home, consistently disrupted the Terrapins' offense. The Blue Devils did about anything they wanted, ripping to a 15-point lead, then 40-26 at halftime.
Spurred by Driesell's tirade, Maryland turned things around completely during the first 12 minutes of the second half. Led by Len Bias (24 points), Branch (22) and a rejuvenated Jeff Adkins (16 points), they outscored the shocked Blue Devils, 32-14, getting a 58-54 lead on Speedy Jones' follow with eight minutes left.
"They just played an unbelievable second half, especially those first (12) minutes," Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We know we're not a powerhouse, we're a developing team. Give them credit for what they did."
"It was big-time basketball, no doubt about it," said Branch. "We know we have a good team and they're pretty good, too."
Indeed. Down by four with the Cole crazies in ecstasy, Duke easily could have folded its tent and gone home. But it didn't. The Blue Devils got the lead back on two foul shots by Mark Alarie that made it 61-60 with 3:52 to go. As always, it was their defense -- hammering and trapping, slapping and diving -- that brought them back.
But the Terrapins weren't going to die, either. After Alarie's two shots, the teams produced two minutes of basketball that was as good as it gets. Each scored on four straight possessions, making tough shots.
The last basket of the stretch was a 15-foot flash-through-the-lane job by David Henderson that put the Blue Devils up, 67-66, with 1:45 to go. Fouled, Henderson converted and it was 68-66.
The Terrapins came down and worked the ball around the perimeter. Finally, Branch drove the base line, went up and drew a foul. He went to the line, the spot that caused him so much grief five nights ago in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Repeat performance: the first shot bounced away. The second went in but as it did, Duke's Danny Meagher pushed Bias into the lane. Official Gerry Donaghy called Bias for a lane violation.
"I just told him that Meagher pushed me," Bias said. "He shook his head and walked away. I couldn't argue because we had to play defense."
They did. Duke worked the 45-second clock under 10, the game clock under 35 seconds. Amaker penetrated and dished left to Dawkins. As Dawkins started to make his move, he slipped slightly and traveled.
"I was praying something would happen when he got the ball," Bias said. "The way he was shooting, if it went up, it probably would have gone in."
It never went up. Now, the Terrapins had to have a basket to force overtime. They set up deliberately. "We had been working the clock for a while," Adkins said. "We wanted to make sure we took a good shot and made it hard for them to get a good shot at the other end. That's just what we did."
They ran their normal offense, looking for a shot from the wing by Branch or Bias. Branch dribbled right, went to the base line, pulled up and shot with four seconds on the clock. The ball swished through at :03 as Duke frantically signaled for time. The score was tied at 68.
"It was going to Lenny or me," Branch said. "I just wanted to be sure the shot was a good one. I felt good when it left my hand."
"Big-time play," Krzyzewski said. "He hit a great shot."
"What can you say?" Dawkins added. "He hit the same shots in the second half that he missed in the first half."
Duke, with two seconds left, used two timeouts to get the ball to Alarie (12 points) 25 feet out with one second left, but he bobbled the ball.
The Terrapins were in control from the beginning. They won the tap and Bias hit a short turnaround bank shot. Then, after Speedy Jones' steal, Branch scored on a drive to make it 72-68. Dawkins hit a follow shot but Lewis made a short shot in the lane and it was 74-70.
Henderson missed a jumper and several hands, belonging to Duke players, reached for the ball. But Donaghy called Maryland for goaltending. It was 74-72 and a moment later, Lewis was called for charging and Duke had one more chance.
But Jones made one more big play, knocking the ball away from Henderson. This time, Bias made two foul shots for a 76-72 lead. It looked over when Dawkins missed, but Branch missed a one-and-one foul shot at the other end and when Dawkins scored with 10 seconds left, Branch had to go to the line once more with eight seconds left and a two-point lead.
"Carolina, the miss there was still in my mind," Branch admitted. "I couldn't run away from the shots, though. I'm just glad they went in."
They both did, rendering academic Dawkins' dunk with three seconds left and Duke's desperate attempt to call a timeout it didn't have.
"This was a great one to have," said Adkins, who Driesell said probably will start Wednesday. "After we lost to Carolina the way we did, I felt like we deserved one of these. I can't even explain the feeling."
He explained the feeling best as the buzzer sounded, hurling the ball high into the seats. Last week, there was sorrow and dismay. This time, all Maryland felt was sheer joy.