DURHAM, N.C., JAN. 16 -- Less than 48 hours after they suffered disappointment by losing to North Carolina, the Maryland Terrapins celebrated their biggest victory in two years. The Terrapins, playing with great poise down the stretch, beat the seventh-ranked Duke Blue Devils, 72-69, in front of 8,564 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The Terrapins had success going inside to Derrick Lewis (team-high 20 points) and Brian Williams (14 points). Lewis' dunk with 24 seconds left gave the Terrapins a 71-69 lead. Then, after Rudy Archer and Teyon McCoy combined for a steal, Archer hit one of two free throws with seven seconds left for the final margin. Duke's Kevin Strickland tried a three-point shot with two seconds left, but it fell short.

In what may be the toughest place to play in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Terrapins recorded their first conference road victory and most important triumph in the two seasons that Bob Wade has been head coach. When the final buzzer sounded, the Terrapins mobbed each other on the court. Near the Maryland bench, in a scene that looked like a well-dressed pro wrestling tag-team match, Wade and Athletic Director Lew Perkins embraced and jumped up and down like teen-agers.

"This win is just tremendous," said Wade, whose team is 10-4, 3-1 in the ACC. "It's as big a win as I've had in a short career as a college coach."

The most surprising aspect of the victory was the way the Terrapins handled themselves in the final minutes. Their first three losses had been in hostile arenas, and two of those had come in the final minutes. Then, Thursday, the Terrapins were nervous all night, as North Carolina won at Cole Field House. Tonight, they were splendid.

"The game was decided in the last three minutes, and they outplayed us," Strickland said, "They got all the loose balls, all the key rebounds. They wanted it more than we did."

Maryland, which led by 12 points early in the first half, was ahead, 34-31, at halftime. But the second half was back and forth, with several lead changes.

With 3:53 left in the game, Duke's Danny Ferry (game-high 23 points) tied the score at 64 on a three-point play. Ferry, who was held to eight-of-25 shooting from the field, then hit two free throws. Duke freshman Greg Koubek stole the ball from Keith Gatlin and hit a three-point shot to give the Blue Devils a 69-64 lead with 2:44 left.

The vociferous Duke crowd was screaming as the Terrapins took a timeout.

"We just told our kids to dig deep defensively," Wade said.

The crowd, which had seen Duke (10-2, 1-1) win 35 of its last 37 games here, sensed a victory after the long struggle. And maybe the Blue Devils did also.

"We did let down on our pressure," said Billy King, Duke's best defensive player who, at various times, guarded point guards and post players. "We've got to realize that when the game is on the line, we have to lift our defense to a higher level."

Instead, Maryland was the one that played defense -- holding the Blue Devils scoreless the rest of the way -- made good decisions and hit shots.

Fifth-year senior Gatlin, who had played nearly 17 minutes by that point but had just two points, came through when the Terrapins needed him. After the timeout, Gatlin hit one jumper, and after Ferry missed, hit a three-pointer to tie the score, 69-69, with 1:34 left.

"It's been a long time since I've been in competition like this," said Gatlin. "I'm a senior and I have to take the big shots when I have them, and Rudy {Archer} gave me a great pass."

After a timeout with 1:27 left, Duke came down court and Ferry, who was one of seven from three-point range, missed for the last time and McCoy grabbed the long rebound. The Terrapins called time with 47 seconds left.

When play resumed, Duke players slapped the floor to try to get themselves going. It worked momentarily, but not long enough. Gatlin missed a three-pointer from the right wing, but Williams went high above two Blue Devils to grab the rebound. He passed to Archer, who found Lewis open under the basket for a dunk. That put Maryland up, 71-69, with 24 seconds left, and the Terrapins called their last timeout with 22 seconds to go.

Duke began to work the ball inside, but Archer came from the weak side to deflect Quin Snyder's pass to Ferry.

"I figured they would try to isolate Danny Ferry on Brian {Williams} because Ferry has the experience," Archer said. "When I saw they were going to him, I just went hard to the ball."

McCoy retrieved the ball and passed to Archer, who was fouled.

Archer is one of Maryland's best free throw shooters. And just as the Terrapins found their poise tonight, they found a better touch at the line, making 17 of 25. So when Archer hit the first one, the Terrapins had their first win here since 1984.

"There was a little stigma that we couldn't win on the road," Wade said. "But we showed we can win on the road and we can play with the upper echelon of the ACC." MARYLAND Min FG FT R A PF T Lewis 32 7-11 6-9 9 1 4 20 Massenburg 22 1-3 2-4 1 0 0 4 Williams 37 6-8 2-2 7

Halftime: Maryland, 34-31.

Technical fouls: Duke bench.

Three-point shots: Maryland 3-9 (Hood 1-1, Archer 1-4, Gatlin 1-4); Duke 5-16 (Koubek 2-2, Snyder 1-2, Stri

A: 8,564.