The Washington Times - February 15, 2009, 11:16AM

Only one guy spent all of the final 14:47 on the floor for Maryland yesterday.

That guy was Eric Hayes.

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It was an interesting quirk, if only because there were no injuries and Hayes isn’t a starter. Sure, Greivis Vasquez was in foul trouble, but coach Gary Williams usually cycles his reserves out at some point.

Not so with Hayes, who was the first man off the bench after the break and stuck around the rest of the way.

It turned into a very Hayes-like performance: 12 points, five assists, a couple 3-pointers and four free throws in as many tries down the stretch, the sort of game Maryland can use from its sixth man.

“He was a pretty good starter against Georgia Tech,” Williams said. “See I look at like today, we probably played mostly an eight-man rotation. If we can get to nine, great. If we can only go eight, OK, we’ll go with that. Eric’s there at the end of the game. they should have – instead of calling them starters, they should call them finishers because they’re the important guys. Anybody can start a game, but not everybody can finish a game. Eric, with his free throw shooting ability, he’s really valuable to have on the court at the end of the game.”

Now there’s an idea that’s going to cost me some time this morning.

OK, time to set out some reasonable perameters. A close game is one that is either decided by 10 points or less or goes to overtime. Seems reasonable, no?

Anyway, of Maryland’s 24 games this season, eight qualify as blowout wins and eight are close wins. Of the losses, four are close and four are blowouts. There’s some sweet symmetry there.

Out of the 120 guys on the floor at the end of games this season, I’m only unsure of one of them. David Pearman replaced either Jerome Burney or Cliff Tucker in the final seconds of the BB&T Classic rout of George Washington. My vague recollection is that it was Burney who came out, so the “Game finished” credit goes to Tucker. But it warrants an asterisk nonetheless, and feel free to e-mail me if I happen to definitely be wrong about it.

PlayerBlowout W
Close W
Close L
Blowout L
Total
1-Milbourne064111
4-Dupree710210
5-Hayes264012
11-Kim720413
14-Mosley353213
21-Vasquez16209
22-Bowie562316
23-Pearman50049
24-Tucker51129
25-Goins10023
32-Burney00000
33-Gregory10001
35-Neal374014

Well, that’s sort of interesting. Adrian Bowie leads all Terps with 16 games finished.

Now, about those dozen close games…

Neal: 11
Hayes: 10
Milbourne: 10
Bowie: 8
Mosley: 8
Vasquez: 8
Kim: 2
Tucker: 2
Dupree: 1

So there it is. Yes, Hayes is a pretty good finisher, all things considered. But when things are close at the end of games, the safest bet of all is to assume Dave Neal is somewhere in the fray.

Patrick Stevens