The chant began in the final 10 seconds: "Four-ninety-nine, four-ninety-nine."
Lefty Driesell heard it and he could do nothing. Today, his Maryland basketball team played about as good a game as it could play, trying to get Driesell his 500th victory as a college coach.
But in the building where Driesell played college basketball, his alma mater played just a little better. The result was a 70-62 victory for fifth-ranked Duke before 8,564 fans who just about matched the intensity of the teams, which is saying a lot.
"Whenever we play them it comes down to one or two plays," said Duke's Johnny Dawkins, the Mackin High School graduate who had 20 points and the two biggest offensive plays of the game. "Everyone goes at each other hard for 40 minutes."
For 40 minutes, the Blue Devils (6-4 in the ACC, 17-4 overall) played defense about as well as it can be played. And yet, the Terrapins (5-3, 19-7) were very much in the game until Jeff Adkins (14 points) made a 20-footer from the top of the key with 1:12 left to pull them to 61-57.
That's when things got out of hand. As Adkins' shot arched towards the hoop, Maryland's Len Bias (21 points) and Duke's Danny Meagher, who had hammered each other most of the game, went down on the floor. As they were on the floor, replays showed Bias swung his left arm at Meagher's head.
Referee John Moreau immediately jumped in and called Bias for a dead-ball technical foul, an automatic two-shot technical. Dawkins made both free throws for a 63-57 lead and Coach Mike Krzyzewski called time. As the huddles broke, Driesell tried to get Moreau's attention. When he did, Driesell gave Moreau the choke sign.
Moreau responded by giving Driesell a technical. Dawkins stepped up and made two more shots and it was 65-57. Game over.
"I was straightening my tie," Driesell claimed with a semistraight face. "I thought it was stupid for him to make that call when he did. Everyone knows Meagher's the biggest faker in the league. Lenny probably just grazed him and he fell down like he's been slammed or something. There's no way he should have made that call."
According to Adkins, Moreau vehemently disagreed. On Driesell's instructions, Adkins went up to Moreau after the timeout to tell him that Meagher had been faking.
"I didn't see the play because I was shooting," Adkins said. "But the bench told me to tell Moreau (that) Meagher was faking. He was pretty hot about it. He told me if it had been anybody but Lenny Bias who had done that he would have thrown him out of the game. He didn't seem to have any doubt about the call."
Bias denied swinging an elbow. "He pulled me down; it should have been a foul on him," he said. "When we got up, I was trying to get loose from him, that was all."
Meagher's version was different. "I didn't pull him down, I didn't fall on purpose," he said. "I was just boxing out and we went down. When we got up, he got an elbow on my head. It was no big deal."
Maryland could have won the game at that stage, but in all likelihood would not have. Duke had the ball and a four-point lead, and the Terrapins would have had to give two fouls just to put Duke in the one-and-one. Considering the Blue Devils turned the ball over only six times the whole game (Maryland made nine turnovers), the odds were in the Blue Devils' favor.
The two technicals merely removed suspense from the last minute. "We played a good game," said Adkins, who once again went most of the way (33 minutes) as Driesell continued to show little confidence in starter Keith Gatlin. He played just nine minutes, all in the first half.
Duke wanted to get even for Maryland's 78-76 overtime victory at College Park. Each time the Terrapins came downcourt, the Blue Devils would smack their hands on the floor as a reminder that, as Krzyzewski had told them before the game, there would be "no dunks, no layups, no scoring."
Maryland scored, but only because its work ethic and patience were excellent. Dawkins, despite giving away six inches, held 6-foot-8 Adrian Branch to 10 points on five-of-12 shooting. But Adkins (seven of nine) and Speedy Jones (four of six, 11 points) picked up a lot of the slack.
None of the points came easy. "We were told before the game that if we fouled, it better not be a touch foul," Meagher said. "The fouls I committed on Bias were physical fouls. That was the tone we wanted from the start."
Duke led, 34-30, at halftime, thanks mainly to the zone-busting shots of freshman Kevin Strickland, who scored 10 points for the game, the first eight on attempts from about the fourth row.
The lead grew to 40-32 early in the second half before the Terrapins went on an 11-2 run to lead, 43-42, with 10:33 to go on Adkins' 20-footer from the corner.
Twice, with the score tied at 46, the Terrapins turned the ball over. The second time -- a throwaway by Terry Long -- Mark Alarie (21 points on 10-of-12 shooting) made a three-point play on a tough 10-foot bank shot with 6:01 left.
Maryland never got even again. After Bias' foul shot made it 51-49, Dawkins made two big plays, both times beating Adkins on the base line for short jump shots. "Coach K (Krzyzewski) has talked to me all year about playing at one speed -- fast," Dawkins said. "Today, I think I may have lulled him (Adkins) to sleep a little by being quiet for a while. I wanted the ball then."
Dawkins' second shake-and-bake move and basket made it 55-51. When Maryland's Derrick Lewis, who twisted an ankle in the second half, had a short turnaround go in and out, Duke's Tommy Amaker (10 assists) hit a driving bank shot in the lane for a 57-51 lead with 3:44 to go.
Bias cut the margin to 57-53 with a 10-footer, but Jay Bilas rebounded Dawkins' air ball and made it 59-53 with 2:35 left. After Branch and Alarie each scored, Adkins hit his shot to begin the Bias-Meagher-straighten-your-tie sequence.
"It would have been nice to get the 500th for Coach down here," Branch said. "But we played a real good game and it wasn't quite good enough."
He smiled. "Now we go home to play Carolina (Wednesday), though. If we can do it for him then, it will be awfully sweet. Today just wasn't meant to be the day."