The chant echoed through the hallways, terminals and team buses as Maryland swaggered its way home, a glory-clad Len Bias yelling it to every passer-by: "What happened to North Carolina? Who beat the Tar Heels?"
When you are a defeat-weary team like Maryland and you knock off the No. 1 team in the country, you are entitled to say "I told you so," and the Terrapins did yesterday, all the way back to College Park. As they waited for their morning flight in Chapel Hill they signed autographs, ignored accusatory stares of North Carolina fans and climbed gleefully on the furniture, all the while retelling the stunning events of Thursday night's 77-72 upset of the Tar Heels.
Going into the game with one of the more inglorious records in recent school history, the Terrapins suddenly made something of themselves. With the upset sending them on a final three-game stretch at 15-11 overall and 4-7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, they are reasonably optimistic of receiving an NCAA tournament bid and have to be given an equally good chance of upsetting No. 5 Georgia Tech today at 4 p.m. at Cole Field House.
Vast underdogs to a North Carolina team that had lost just once all season, the Terrapins clankety-clanked their way past a nine-point deficit with 2:58 to go to put the game in overtime on Jeff Baxter's 20-foot jumper, then electrified the Dean E. Smith Student Activities Center with Keith Gatlin's two free throws and trick layup with seven seconds left in overtime.
"We woke up talking about it," Baxter said. "When you think about it, you realize it's going to go down in Maryland history. Everyone will know the score, who was on the team. It's set down in the books and it can't be changed."
There is indeed historical significance to a game that has to be the college upset of the season. Foremost, it was the first loss for North Carolina at the so-called "Dean Dome," the 21,555-seat new arena where the Tar Heels have become the favorites to win the national championship.
It was just the eighth time in his 17 years that Lefty Driesell has beaten the Smith-coached Tar Heels in the regular season, losing 26 times in the same span. "It has to be in my top 10, certainly," Driesell said.
This was not luck, fate or freak. The Terrapins simply put together a combination of harassing man and zone defenses, placed four scorers in double figures led by Bias' barely believable 35, and frankly outlasted and outthought North Carolina.
"I think that's the first time anyone has ever actually worn them out," Baxter said.
Strangely enough, a Terrapins team that was thought to consist merely of one player, Bias, overcame a team that has come to be known as the consummate collection of role players. It was the Terrapins who turned out to be the more complete for at least one night: Maryland got 10 points each from Derrick Lewis, Baxter and Gatlin. Lewis added 10 rebounds, six blocked shots, Gatlin had seven assists and three steals, and Tom (Speedy) Jones had six points and six rebounds.
"Everyone acts like this is amazing," Bias said. "But there was nothing amazing about it. Our record doesn't show it, maybe, but we're a good team and we've known it all along. It just took us a while."
Perhaps foremost among the moments worthy of framing was Baxter's 20-foot jumper. Maryland had been in that situation more than it would care to count, usually on the wrong end. The Terrapins lost to Nevada-Las Vegas by one when Baxter's jumper fell off the rim, they lost to Georgia Tech by one when Gatlin's did the same, and to Villanova by one when another of Gatlin's trickled off the rim.
There was a vague sense of justice then, when Baxter's shot fell so cleanly through the net with two seconds left. For the first time all season he took the shot with confidence, checking the middle to find Bias double-covered by Daugherty and Joe Wolf, dribbling twice, and letting it go.
It was a season-maker for Baxter, who was suspended for one game a week ago along with Bias and freshman guard John Johnson for breaking curfew following a 67-66 upset of North Carolina State. Without three key players, Maryland lost to Clemson two days later to jeopardize its NCAA chances.
"It all started with N.C. State," Baxter said. "Then we suffered, shall we say, a momentary setback. Coach told us we had to do something to make up for that. I guess this was it.
"I just took my shot. It was funny -- I was thinking it was just a regular jumper until Carolina took a timeout. Then it struck me, that was the shot that tied the game -- the dream shot."
The shot came as a result of Smith's badly missed free throw on the front end of a one-and-one, which would have put North Carolina up by three with 10 seconds left. According to Baxter, Smith had showed his nerves at the line, particularly when Bias told him, "Now's the time to choke, Kenny."
Smith, who had 12 points, was also on the wrong side of Bias on the next key play. With 14 seconds remaining in overtime and Maryland leading by 73-72, Smith tried to drive the lane. Bias held still until Smith reached him, then unleashed one of his vintage, hangtime leaps and knocked the shot away.
"He jumped just about clear over the backboard," Driesell said.
The game probably ended with seven seconds left in overtime when Jeff Lebo fouled Gatlin and his two free throws gave Maryland a 75-72 lead. But North Carolina has won more than its share of games in the final seven seconds.
This time, the Tar Heels displayed their second case of nerves on the inbounds play. Wolf, with freshman center Tony Massenburg in his face, was called for five seconds as he threw the ball clear to the other end of the court, where it bounced off the backboard.
"I saw that and I knew it was over," Baxter said.
If Smith hadn't been humbled by Bias, he was by Gatlin on the final play of the game. On Maryland's inbounds play, Gatlin produced the layup of the season, bouncing the ball off Smith's back, stepping onto the court, and laying it in for the final score. Perfectly legal, and perfectly humiliating.
It was passing strange to see Maryland, usually a laissez-faire team, playing something approaching a brilliant strategic game, and what may have been most humbling for the Tar Heels was to see the Terrapins beat their strengths. Guards Steve Hale and Lebo were held to a total of three assists in the second half, and without them to penetrate and pass, the power inside game was contained by Bias and Lewis.
"I don't think we've got anything to prove," Smith said. "At least not to other people. But I think we do have something to prove to ourselves, that we can play better than that."
UDC 97, Bowie State 82: Tim Stanfil scored 22 points and Lyndon DeBellotte had 16 points and seven assists to lead the Firebirds over the visiting Bulldogs last night.
UDC (14-8) opened an 18-4 lead early in the game and Bowie State never got closer than eight points the rest of the way. Charles Peterson of Bowie State (1-25) led all scorers with 25 points.
Ferrum College 74, Gallaudet 66: Tim Carr scored 22 points to lead Ferrum (17-8) over Gallaudet in the semifinals of the Capital City Basketball Tournament at St. Mary's (Md.). David Hamilton scored a game-high 28 for Gallaudet (14-12).
In the other semifinal, Philadelphia Pharmacy defeated St. Mary's, 68-60. Gallaudet will face St. Mary's in the consolation game today at 2.