Virginia 80, Maryland 78
-- Trying to continue to build momentum for a postseason run, 13th-ranked Maryland instead was upset in overtime by slumping Virginia, 80-78, in the regular season finale for both teams before 7,301 at University Hall.
"This hurts a little bit for a lot of reasons," Maryland guard Drew Nicholas said.
The loss ended the Terrapins' four-game winning streak, denied their try to reach the 20-win mark and again raised questions about the team's front-court players. For Virginia, however, the victory ended its seven-game losing streak, guaranteed at least a .500 finish and a shot at the National Invitation Tournament, and kept the Cavaliers out of a first appearance in the ACC tournament play-in game. For Virginia (15-14, 6-10), which will play third-seeded Duke Friday at 9 p.m., it was its first season sweep over Maryland in 10 years.
"To beat them twice in one year is special," Virginia Coach Pete Gillen said.
Because Duke was upset by North Carolina, 82-79, earlier today, Maryland (19-8, 11-5) already was ensured the second seed in the ACC tournament, which will begin Thursday in Greensboro, N.C. The Terrapins will play seventh-seeded North Carolina in a quarterfinal game Friday at 7 p.m.
"I'm kind of disappointed," Maryland Coach Gary Williams said. "But I am proud of the team for what we've done this year."
Maryland had several chances to win or tie in the final 30 seconds of overtime, none better than the last one. Steve Blake's contested, off-balance three-point try from the left corner was well short, but center Ryan Randle was wide open under the basket for a potential game-tying put-back.
Randle jumped in the air and tried to redirect the ball into the basket, but it hit the back of the rim and rolled off to the right as time expired.
"I thought I had it but the ball didn't bounce the way I wanted it to bounce," said Randle, who appeared to rush because he knew time was running out.
"You couldn't get a better shot than the last shot we did," said Williams, who was upset at his team's perceived lack of enthusiasm in the first half but pleased with its comeback efforts. "We didn't miss a 30-footer. We missed a six-incher."
That was just the final instance of the Terrapins' interior players coming up short as Jamar Smith missed four dunks and Randle, who appeared tired late in the game, missed one as well. Virginia dominated in the lane, had a 59-36 rebounding advantage and got big performances from two frontcourt seniors. Center Travis Watson had another strong game with 26 points and 15 rebounds but the play of seldom-used forward Jason Rogers was quite a surprise considering he had scored only 15 points all season.
Rogers, making his first career start only because it was his final home game, had career-highs of 12 points and six rebounds and helped the Cavaliers bully the Terrapins inside much of the night.
"It was storybook," Watson said. "It couldn't have ended better for the two of us."
Williams said the inside play was a critical part of the game.
"Virginia really got us on the glass," Williams said. "The second shots were a key part of the game."
While the Terrapins are sure of a 10th consecutive NCAA tournament bid, they were just as certain that tonight's loss might be a blow toward their seeding in that tournament.
Despite trailing for most of the game, Maryland had plenty of chances to pull out a momentum-building victory, which would have been its seventh in eight games and given the team seven consecutive 20-win seasons.
The Terrapins trailed 38-33 at halftime, but surged once play resumed. Randle scored his first points on a short bank shot, then two Virginia turnovers led to a Nicholas dunk and three-pointer from the right wing and Maryland was in front, 40-38.
Virginia then surged and eventually took a 58-51 lead on a jumper from the right side by Watson.
Maryland countered and finally pulled even at 66 with 3:54 left on two free throws by Tahj Holden. A three-pointer from the right wing by Blake, his first basket, gave the Terrapins a 71-70 lead with 1:26 left. Billet then answered for Virginia with a three-pointer from the right wing, over Nicholas's outstretched hand. That gave the Cavaliers a 73-71 lead with 41 seconds left.
Maryland tied it when Blake fed Randle for a dunk with 29 seconds left in regulation.
After Devin Smith missed a three-point try from the right side, Blake missed a 40-foot heave at the buzzer and the teams went to overtime.
Virginia led 79-74 after a put-back by Watson, but a three-pointer by Blake made it 79-78 with 1:16 left. After Elton Brown missed for the Cavaliers, the Terrapins had several chances. Blake and Nicholas each missed long three-point attempts.
Watson made 1 of 2 free throws with 3.7 seconds left, setting up the final play. When Randle missed, Virginia had its sweep.