- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 20, 2005

Maryland guard John Gilchrist predicted Virginia would make a run. The Terrapins just needed to emerge with composure.

Sure enough, Virginia overcame a slow start to take the lead early in the second half. However, Maryland emerged with a 82-68 victory after a 14-2 run last night before 17,950 at Comcast center.

“I was really concerned at halftime,” Terps coach Gary Williams said. “I thought we had lost a lot of emotion, but we managed to take it back in the second half.”

Forward Nik Caner-Medley led the Terps with 26 points, while Gilchrist added 13 points and forward Ekene Ibekwe had 12 points and six rebounds. Center Elton Brown topped Virginia with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while forward Devin Smith had 17 and 10 rebounds.

Maryland (11-4, 2-2 ACC) finishes a three-game homestand against N.C. State on Sunday. Virginia (9-6, 0-5) plays host to Clemson on Saturday.

Defense ultimately made the difference in the fast-paced game. Virginia scored only three points during a 10-minute stretch in the second half, allowing a 53-51 lead to become a 70-56 deficit. The Terps hovered around Brown to close off the inside, while Smith went cold after a strong opening half.

“We were seeing where to help better,” Williams said. “We were playing more team defense that gives you a chance to get some help.”

And Caner-Medley proved again he can be the Terps’ leader. Four days after scoring a career-high 35 points in a victory over Temple, the junior carried Maryland through several spurts. His 3-pointer with 1:43 remaining and ensuing free throw stifled a Cavaliers comeback.

“When Nik’s aggressive, he gets more looks at the basket,” Williams said. “He’s more into the flow.”

Terps guard Chris McCray started after missing one game with a bruised tailbone. With guard D.J. Strawberry out for the rest of the year with a torn right ACL, the Terps couldn’t afford to be short-handed at shooting guard in an up-tempo game.

McCray played despite lingering soreness, though it rarely showed. He finished with 12 points and seven rebounds. McCray even took a charge that put him on his backside.

“I was dying,” McCray said. “I just had to keep gutting it out. The doctor said [the pain] wasn’t going away.”

As Gilchrist predicted earlier this week — “They’re going to hit a couple shots and get all excited,” he said — Virginia nearly shocked Maryland at the start of the second half. A one-point lead at intermission swelled to 49-42 after consecutive 3-pointers by freshman guard Sean Singletary and Brown’s two free throws.

Caner-Medley rescued the Terps once more with seven quick points as the Terps tied the game at 53-53. Ibekwe then scored seven straight points to cap the Terps’ 14-2 run that gave them a 60-53 lead with 12:24 remaining. Virginia only scored on a layup and a free throw during the 10-minute stretch in which Maryland built a 14-point lead.

The teams set a frantic pace from the start in front of fans anxious for a game against one of the Terps’ traditional rivals. Before the season’s loudest crowd, Maryland opened a 14-8 lead behind Caner-Medley’s seven points, which included two baskets on putbacks.

Virginia showed the same slick pace, kicking the ball outside to its 3-point shooters. However, the Cavaliers didn’t get the bounce off the rim early. Virginia then went inside to exploit Brown’s considerable size advantage. The Cavaliers closed to 14-12 before consecutive 3-point plays by the Terps.

Maryland continued to rely on Caner-Medley. While seven Terps each had converted one basket 13 minutes into the game, Caner-Medley was 4-for-6 from the field for 15 points. Caner-Medley nailed a 3-pointer to give Maryland a 32-23 lead, but the Terps then went silent from the field for more than four minutes as the Cavaliers built a 35-32 lead with 5:40 remaining.

The teams traded counterpunches to end the half until Virginia edged ahead 41-40 with 46.3 seconds left on Brown’s layup to provide the halftime edge.

Note — Williams tied former Virginia coach Terry Holland as the fifth-winningest coach in ACC history with 326. Williams also tied former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins for the fourth-most ACC wins (134). Williams’ 533 victories overall are second among active ACC coaches.

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