It didn't take a calculator to figure out what happened to Maryland yesterday. The Terrapins failed in their attempt to upset a second top-five basketball team in three days, losing to fifth-ranked Georgia Tech, 77-70, before 14,500 at Cole Field House.
That makes the Terrapins (15-12 overall, 4-8 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) an even .500 for the three days, which is about 35 percent less than what the Yellow Jackets shot in the second half at Cole.
Complicated as it may sound, the result was simple. Shooting an incredible 86 percent in the second half and 71 percent for the game, the Ramblin' Wreck placed four scorers in double figures to hold off Maryland's bid for an upset.
But Maryland, still running on the adrenaline from its 77-72 upset of No. 1 North Carolina Thursday night in Chapel Hill, almost made this reverie a reality. The Terrapins -- who had won four of their last five games -- took a five-point lead in the first half, trailed just 33-28 at the half, and cut the deficit to two early in the second half. They stayed within a basket of the Yellow Jackets until 10:04 remained, when Georgia Tech ran off seven straight points.
The Yellow Jackets missed just three field goal attempts in the second period. But even with 18-for-21 shooting, they never led by more than nine, and Maryland came as close as four with 3:32 remaining.
"We couldn't stop them," Georgia Tech Coach Bobby Cremins said. "But we made some great shots."
The Yellow Jackets (21-4, 9-3) were led by 7-foot center John Salley with a season-high 22 points. Guard Mark Price had 16 on seven-for-11 shooting. He was followed by Bruce Dalrymple with 13 and forward Duane Ferrell with 12.
"They just shot unbelievable," Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell said. "We tried everything -- zone, man, combination. . . . Still, we were right there with them. It was just a matter of playing a little better defense."
Len Bias scored a game-high 30 points to lead the Terrapins and almost make it a repeat of Thursday's night's game, when he had 35 to spark the Terrapins from a nine-point deficit to beat the Tar Heels in overtime.
The two-game performance put him just one point shy of third place on Maryland's all-time scoring list with 2,014 points, behind John Lucas. Adrian Branch is second with 2,017, and Bias needs just 45 points to break Albert King's career record of 2,058. Bias also made all eight of his free throws yesterday and has made 30 straight, tying the school record set by King in the 1979-80 season.
The performance left Cremins, who usually has more than enough to say, stuttering. Coupled with the North Carolina performance, Bias is a strong favorite for ACC player of the year, and he has Cremins' vote.
"That Bias," said Cremins. "I just don't know what to do. I just don't know what to do. It's just one right after the other. I'd like to give the player of the year award to the team that finishes first or second, and I'm biased toward Price, but yes, I'm going to vote for Len Bias as player of the year."
Forward Tom (Speedy) Jones scored 16 points for Maryland, followed by Keith Gatlin with 12. The Terrapins actually outrebounded Georgia Tech by 30-17, despite a sizeable height disadvantage, and shot 51 percent to keep themselves in the game despite the Yellow Jackets' relentless shooting.
It was Bias' jumpers that kept Maryland within upset distance in the final minutes. Among his various antics, he had a six-foot hook in the lane to bring it to 66-62 with 4:55 remaining, a 17-foot jumper to make it 68-64 with 3:32 left, and an 18-foot baseline jumper to make it 71-66 with 1:55 left.
Bias had made it a two-point game with 15:59 left, on four straight free throws, going to the line twice on fouls by Price in the lane. The fourth foul shot made it 41-39 and the two teams then traded baskets for the next six minutes, with Maryland unable to tie it up.
Georgia Tech's break finally came with 10:04 left, when the Yellow Jackets began the seven-point run for their nine-point lead. Jones had made it 53-51 with a jumper, but then came perhaps the key play of the game. Bias was called for goaltending on Salley's shot from the lane, and Derrick Lewis was also called for a foul on the shot, his third. Salley made the free throw to complete the three-point play and give Georgia Tech a 56-51 lead.
"I thought it was clean," Bias said. "But the officials are paid to make the calls."
"It didn't look like it was going in, if you ask me," Lewis said. "We probably should have let it go, but I thought it was a terrible call."
On the other end, Bias lost control of the ball and Price came up with it to set up Ferrell's hook. After Bias missed a jumper at the baseline, Salley made a layin. It ended the run with 8:49 remaining and gave Georgia Tech the biggest margin of the game at 60-51.
Jones finally broke Maryland's scoreless stretch with his jumper with 8:17 left, and Bias brought Maryland back into it with his three-point play with 6:23 left. He double-pumped in the lane, put up a soft one-hander and drew the foul from Salley. The free throw made it 64-58.
When Salley missed a hook, Maryland cut it to 64-60 on Jones' eight-footer from the lane with 5:44 remaining, and then Bias went to work. But his jumper with 3:32 left marked the last time it would be a four-point game, at 68-64. The clincher probably came with 2:08, when Lewis committed his fifth foul. Dalrymple made the front end of his one-and-one to make it 71-64, and Maryland's best defensive player went to the bench.
Price hit his last six shots of the game, as did Ferrell. Salley hit his last four and was nine for 11 for the game.
"I think that's our best half all year," Price said. "I don't think we've ever shot like that before."
"We played good defense," Bias said. "They just made their shots.