- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 8, 2003

Complacency cost the Maryland Terrapins.

The No. 8 Terps blew a late 12-point lead in Thursday nights 86-78 loss to Virginia. An apparent victory evaporated after Virginia converted six 3-pointers during a 22-4 run against a sloppy Maryland defense. It was a senseless loss.

"When youre the eighth-ranked team in the country and defending national champions, you have a certain responsibility to know youre going to get the other teams best shot," coach Gary Williams said, "and it looked like we thought we could get away without playing our 'A game, and you pay for that every time."

Guard Drew Nicholas put it this way: "You got to win basketball games when youre up 10 in the second half with eight minutes to play. Period. Thats it. Theres nothing else to explain. You gotta win, and we didnt do that."

The Terps were angry, knowing they finally blew one after a string of lackadaisical efforts. Williams only can hope the defeat will trigger the same intensity that followed a loss to Wake Forest on Jan.15. Maryland followed with five straight victories to earn its highest ranking of the season.

"I hope its not easy at all ," Williams said. "I hope it hurts for 2 days. I hope it really hurts," Williams said. "I hope they think about it 24 hours a day, 60 minutes an hour. I hope they dont put it behind them at all until the ball is thrown up at Georgia Tech ."

Said guard John Gilchrist: "This is a motivating factor. Every time I step on the floor, its like church to me. Its my time to let loose and have fun. The fire should be there, and if its not there , its definitely there now."

The Terps suddenly seem vulnerable after blowing a chance to reach the midpoint of the ACC season at 7-1. Maryland (14-5, 6-2) is tied with Wake Forest (16-2, 6-2) atop the conference heading into the game with Georgia Tech (11-8, 4-4), the first of five road games in 25 days. Four teams havent lost an ACC home game, and Florida State recently upset visiting Duke.

Maryland beat Georgia Tech 84-77 on Dec.29 in its ACC opener, but the Terps wont surprise anyone the second time around the league. Maryland has been outrebounded in two straight games and sometimes is careless when it passes the ball underneath. Players concurred with Williams belief they havent delivered their best efforts lately.

The Terps have struggled to maintain leads after several big rallies this season. Though Maryland came back to put away N.C. State, Duke and Clemson, it faded against Wake Forest and Virginia following strong runs.

"We did a good job to get the lead back and just let it slip away and didnt have that push to get it back again," guard Steve Blake said.

Said Williams: "Theres a tendency when you come from behind like that you did what you had to do to win the game."

Certainly, Virginia turned in a standout effort while ending its 10-game ACC road losing streak and 0-9 run at Maryland. The Cavaliers (13-7, 4-4) didnt buckle after the Terps 17-6 run put them behind 65-53 with 12:44 left.

"Poise is a good word to describe us," Virginia coach Pete Gillen said. "I thought we played with courage. As they get the lead, the crowd gets louder and you get out of sync. We just kept throwing guys in and out, so when someone was out of sync someone came in and fortunately did a good job."

Said Williams: "There is no reason to be tired, but we looked like it. But Virginia had a lot to do with that. They played with a lot of emotion and passion."

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