WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., JAN. 2 -- Despite a bushel of mental and physical errors tonight, Maryland had an equal number of chances to leave Joel Coliseum with an upset victory over Wake Forest in the teams' ACC opener. But the Terrapins remained a play or two away, and the Demon Deacons prevailed, 74-62.
The Terrapins forced five turnovers in the final six minutes -- four in four possessions -- but were able to produce only two points.
Maryland (6-4) shot only 26 percent (nine of 34) in the second half. That was a marked contrast from last weekend's ECAC Holiday Festival, in which the Terrapins hit 48 and 49 percent in their victories en route to the title.
Walt Williams led Maryland with 16 points. Evers Burns had 14 and Cedric Lewis 12. Wake Forest (6-2) was paced by freshman Rodney Rogers, who totaled 20 points and 11 rebounds.
"If you shoot 26 percent in the second half you're not going to win," said Maryland Coach Gary Williams. "I thought we were running our offense better after the tournament, but this was a little different. We're playing at Wake Forest in the conference opener on their home floor instead of on a neutral floor."
There was little -- from a smallish crowd of 9,417 to the quality of play -- that indicated the presence of teams from one of the nation's premier conferences. But all the negative aspects seemed to work in Maryland's favor.
Another advantage for the Terrapins was an officiating crew that allowed them to use their aggressiveness to counteract the Deacons' size. Although that led to early foul trouble (both Lewis and starting forward Garfield Smith had three fouls in the first half, with Smith eventually fouling out), Maryland used its pressure defense to double-team and swarm around the ball enough to stay in the game.
But the Terrapins weren't able to pull the trigger on offense, shooting 33 percent and hitting just 18 of 27 free throws. In each half, Maryland had stretches of more than five minutes without a field goal.
Even so, the Terrapins still were within 46-45 with 11:40 remaining and 58-51 with 5:37 left. Wake Forest was in the midst of its four straight turnovers, but Maryland lost the ball twice too. After a layup by Kevin McLinton, the Terps managed to get only one shot during the crucial stretch.
From that point Maryland was forced to foul. And Wake Forest, which had missed nine of 14 free throws to that point, hit 12 of its last 13.
"We played hard, but in the second half we got passive on offense; we weren't running our plays hard enough," said Burns. "There was no problem with our defense, but we didn't work hard enough down the stretch at the other end. If we run our stuff hard and we concentrate, we'll win a lot of games in the ACC."
Lewis hit a jump hook at the 17:45 mark of the first half to put Maryland ahead 8-4, but the Terrapins didn't get another basket until 12:04 remained. Despite poor shooting and eight turnovers, they trailed just 35-32 at intermission.
A dunk by Burns with 16:48 to play gave Maryland a 38-37 advantage, but the Terrapins scored only two baskets in the next 11 minutes.
"We had the game in a situation where we had a shot to win but we couldn't sustain our half-court offense," said Gary Williams. "There are stages that a team has to go through. Maybe we learned something tonight that will help us later on in the season."