There are a lot of places the Maryland Terrapins would have been better off today -- at the Smithsonian, at a matinee, or on their knees in a place of worship, as Coach Charles G. Driesell suggested.
Anyplace but gleeful University Hall, where Virginia defeated the Terrapins by the shocking score of 70-49 on this barely credible afternoon.
There were a number of reasons to gape at the 21-point margin. First of all, Atlantic Coast Conference basketball teams simply don't beat each other by that much. Second, Maryland never before has been 0-4 in the ACC in Driesell's 16 years as coach.
"We just did it all wrong," Driesell said in a brief statement, refusing to entertain questions. "I don't like playing on Sundays, anyway. We should have been in church."
It was the worst conference loss for the Terrapins since 1981-82, when North Carolina State won by 21, 74-53. And it was one of those you-had-to-be-there situations, because the sight of Maryland (10-6 overall) losing by this score to a supposedly less-than-powerful Virginia team (12-4, 2-2) was otherwise not to believed.
The Terrapins shot only 39 percent for the game and 33 percent in the second half. The Cavaliers shot 70 percent in the final period and 58 percent for the game.
Virginia, which outscored Maryland by 14-2 over the final 4:39, had 18 points and eight rebounds from center Olden Polynice, 16 points and 10 rebounds from forward Andrew Kennedy and 16 points from guard Tom Calloway. The Cavaliers have a four-game winning streak and have won seven of their last eight.
"We looked great, didn't we?" Polynice said.
All-America forward Len Bias of Maryland was held to 19 points, only the fourth time this season he has had fewer than 20. Thank forward Kennedy, who engaged him in an epic battle out of Virginia's unyielding diamond-and-one defense. No other Terrapins were in double figures; guards Keith Gatlin and Jeff Baxter scored eight points each.
"I don't think I'd be a genius to say that our defense did the job," Cavaliers Coach Terry Holland said. "Andrew Kennedy did everything a human can do against Bias, and he still got his points. We just ganged up on Bias, and I thought the key was that we made Maryland take some tough shots."
Bias still managed to get off his usual shots from outside and was seven for 15 from the field. But he scored only once from the inside, and that came on a three-on-one break to make it 4-2.
"It wasn't just Kennedy," Bias said. "There was always one guy in front and one in back. If it had been one on one, it might've been okay."
The ultimate insult came with 3:15 remaining and the Cavaliers leading by 60-47. Picture this: Polynice standing over a prone Bias after blocking his jumper from the corner, a shot that is rarely stopped. Polynice pointed at him on the floor, as University Hall erupted, and said something unintelligible.
"I said, 'Yah, yah, yah!' " Polynice said.
Maryland trailed, 31-24, at the end of the first half and never came closer than eight in the second. The Terrapins played little defense until midway through the second half and were unable to shut down Virginia's inside power game, getting outrebounded by 34-25.
In addition, they shot only 46 percent from the foul line. They missed three one-and-one situations down the stretch, two of which could have brought them within six.
Virginia had scored the first six points of the second half to take a 37-24 lead. Tom Sheehey made a jump hook in the lane and added two free throws, and Calloway made a jumper from the corner with 16:49 left.
But Maryland managed to chip away and trailed by 44-36 with 10:17. Tom (Speedy) Jones then had a chance to cut it to six when he was fouled by John Johnson. He missed the front end.
The Terrapins had another chance with 8:51 left. Jeff Baxter had an opportunity to make it 46-40, but he, too, missed his first free throw. Then Bias went to the line with 4:39 left. He made the first to close it to 56-47, but missed the second.
Virginia then scored 14 straight points to make it a blowout.
"It wasn't really that kind of game," Holland said. "Obviously it was more of an eight- to 10-point game the entire way. We got down to that five-minute mark, and Maryland had cut it to eight, and it seemed like the momentum was shifting. We told our kids we're going to play; we're not going to nourish the clock."
And that's what they did.
Aside from the final score, one thing sure to irk the Terrapins was that they had played three top five teams in the last 10 days to near draws. They lost to Duke, Georgia Tech and North Carolina by a total of 11 points, then followed it up with today's performance.
"I don't know if we just went to the well too many times and it went dry or what," Driesell said. "But it was just an awful exhibition. It was one of those days we were in a funk. We should have stayed home."