- The Washington Times - Monday, December 3, 2001

The Maryland Terrapins left the MCI Center court at halftime of yesterday's BB&T; Classic first-round game to a healthy round of boos from their sometimes-faithful fans.
The reason for the fans' ire was the way in which Princeton, their team's opponent, had slowed down the fastbreaking Terps and made fifth-ranked Maryland look foolish with a disciplined attack and patient possessions that routinely ended with backdoor layups. The result was a 13-point lead for the Tigers at the half.
Princeton's style has been known to frustrate more talented opponents and produce upsets. However, there wouldn't be another Princeton giant killing. Maryland composed itself in the second half, rallied and came away with a hard-earned 61-53 win over the John Thompson III-coached Tigers.
"We were nervous," said Terps coach Gary Williams, whose team looked clueless attacking Princeton's match-up zone. "The thought of losing was there. Believe me."
The Terps eventually used their strengths and stopped falling into the Tigers' slow-moving trap. Maryland capitalized on its athletic advantage inside with Lonny Baxter (19 points, 12 rebounds), and broke a disturbing trend of poor foul shooting by making 12 of 13 down the stretch to avoid the upset.
Maryland (5-1) moves on to face Connecticut, an 84-76 winner over George Washington, in tonight's tournament final. GW will face Princeton (1-4) in the consolation contest. The Terps' fifth consecutive win combined with last week's 13-point blasting of No.2 Illinois could have them jump several spots in the Associated Press poll today.
"I wasn't sure there was enough time to come back," said Williams, whose Terps shot 29 percent in the first half and committed 12 turnovers, many of which landed in courtside seats. "I look up at the scoreboard at halftime and we're down 13. I know they are going to take 25, 30 seconds to shoot in the second half. There's not many possessions there."
Maryland trailed 36-23 at the break, its lowest point total in one period since a 38-19 deficit to St. John's in the 1999 NCAA tournament. Point guard Steve Blake led the gaffe-fest with five turnovers before he settled down for a solid second half with six assists and one turnover.
Juan Dixon (14 points) led Maryland's success from the foul line by going 9-for-9, and teammate Chris Wilcox (11 rebounds) proved too athletic for the limited Tigers on the glass.
Princeton led 42-28 with 14:18 left after center Konrad Wysocki (13 points) scored an easy basket off an inbound pass. Then the Terps went on an 18-4 run to tie the game at 46 on two Byron Mouton free throws. Baxter started the run when he was fouled while he sank a short hook. Although he missed the foul shot, Dixon got the long rebound and fed Baxter for a layup to cut the margin to 10.
The Terps extended their defense and cut off Princeton's 3-point attempts. The Tigers made four of eight in the first half, but missed all four attempts in the second. The aggressive man-to-man defense also came up with numerous steals that led to layups and foul shots. Dixon had six takeaways, and Maryland exerted its size advantage, particularly after Wysocki left the game with his fourth foul with 12:42 remaining.
Maryland scored the final eight points of the run on a Wilcox tip in, two free throw from Tahj Holden, a steal and breakaway layup by Mouton and Mouton's foul shots.
"We rebounded and we finally found a way to get it to our big guys, Lonny in particular," Williams said. "And we finally made our free throws for a change."
Maryland came into the game shooting a dismal 53.4 percent from the line. In the first half, the Terps made eight of 15 with Dixon making his five tries. Meanwhile, the Tigers made all 10 of their foul shots to extend their lead. Maryland made just two of its first five free throws in the second half, before it drained 12 of its final 13 Drew Nicholas, Holden, Dixon and Blake each hit a pair and Mouton made four. The only miss came after Wilcox was fouled while he sank a short leaner that gave Maryland the lead at 53-51 with 4:19 left. It was the Terps first lead since 2-0.
After a miss by Princeton's Andre Logan (15 points), Dixon got fouled cutting to the basket and made both foul shots to put the Terps up four.
"We just had to be patient on defense," Holden said. "That's what made the difference. We just stopped the open shot and the backdoor in the end."
The Tigers cut it to 55-53 on a layup by Wysocki with 1:13 left before a 6-foot baseline hook by Baxter started Maryland's six-point run to close the game. Blake and Mouton added free throws to ice the painstaking victory.

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