GREENSBORO, N.C., FEB. 27 -- Just about the time it looked like Wake Forest might upset another Atlantic Coast Conference opponent and Maryland might blow any hope for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, two things happened. The first was that the Demon Deacons got tired. The second was that the Terrapins ran off 10 straight points. That combination of events allowed Maryland to leave the Greensboro Coliseum today with a 70-65 victory in front of 6,000.
"We can't keep spotting people all these points," said Maryland's Keith Gatlin, who led the Terrapins with 17. "We should win or be right there in every game. Against North Carolina, we were down by a lot. We came back, but we lost by one. If we can play 40 minutes of consistent basketball we'll be okay."
For quite a bit of the second half, the Terrapins did not look okay at all.
With 7:44 left in the game, Wake Forest took a 54-49 lead on a three-pointer by Antonio Johnson. When Derrick Lewis was short on two free throws with 7:29 left, the Terrapins seemed to be headed the wrong way.
"We want to prove that we are a good team," said Rudy Archer, who had 10 points on four-of-11 shooting from the field. "We were doing that in the last couple minutes. We tightened our belts and got a win."
Gatlin started the turnaround with a steal and two free throws. Teyon McCoy hit a three-pointer to tie the game, 54-54, and Archer hit a three-point shot from the left corner. With 4:44 left, Brian Williams, who spent most of the game in foul trouble, was called for his fifth, although Gatlin claimed it was he who grabbed Ralph Kitley's arm.
With Williams sentenced to the bench, Tony Massenburg (10 points) came back in the game. Massenburg had started, then sat out awhile after twisting his ankle. He immediately hit a 16-footer from the foul line to give Maryland a 59-54 lead with 4:18 left.
The Demon Deacons cut the lead to 61-58 with 2:52 left, but Lewis hit two free throws and later made a three-point play. And when Massenburg put back a missed free throw by Archer with 51 seconds left, the Terrapins had a 68-58 lead and were assured of the win.
The victory snapped a three-game ACC losing streak and pushed Maryland's conference mark to 5-7, while improving its overall record to 15-10.
"The ACC tournament is on our heels," Maryland Coach Bob Wade said. "Everyone is jockeying for position."
Wake Forest, which had beaten North Carolina and North Carolina State in this building, fell to 11-14, 3-9 in the ACC.
"Fatigue may have been a factor in the final eight to 10 minutes," said Wake Forest Coach Bob Staak, whose team has been reduced to six scholarship players because of injuries. All five Wake Forest starters played at least 33 minutes. "With the lack of numbers, it had to be a contributing factor."
Wake Forest played nearly all of the game in a 2-3 zone and forced the Terrapins to shoot from the outside. They were fairly successful, with three of their first five baskets being three-pointers.
Although Maryland had an eight-point lead, Wake Forest stayed close. Sam Ivy led all scorers with 21 points, and his two free throws tied the game at 19 with 8:21 left.
With Maryland ahead, 32-23, with 43 seconds left in the half, Lewis rebounded a Wake Forest miss. His left elbow connected with Tom Wise's face and Wise crumpled to the floor with what turned out to be a broken nose. Lewis was called for a foul, but Staak screamed for an intentional one, which he didn't get.
"I thought it was intentional," Staak said.
"So I was aiming for him?" Lewis said in response responded. "Coach Staak is going to think what he wants to think, but I'm not going to argue with him. I had a guy on this side and a guy on the other and I just pivoted."
Lewis had nine points in the first half, scoring inside and out. But his second half was similar to Maryland's. Lewis had no points in the first 17 minutes of the second half and let some people go past him to the basket, though both can be largely attributed to his own foul trouble. But in the last few minutes, he had a great block coming from the weak side and scored those five straight points.
"I'd like to be ahead all the way, but we seem to play better when we're behind," Lewis said. "I'm sure Coach doesn't like it."