- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 29, 2008

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. | After seven years, Georgetown and Maryland are finally going to revisit their rivalry. It figures that the matchup would happen far from the Hilltop and College Park.

No. 9 Gonzaga cemented a lackluster day for the locals at the Old Spice Classic, manhandling Maryland 81-59 to set up the first meeting between the Hoyas and the Terrapins since the 2001 NCAA tournament.

The Terps (4-1) and Hoyas (3-1) will meet at 5:30 p.m. Sunday in the event’s third-place game. Maryland and Georgetown have met 61 times, but not regularly since 1979. The Terps lead the series 36-25.

“It’s ironic that were playing them here,” Maryland coach Gary Williams said. “A lot of the guys know each other. It’s two teams with strong traditions from great conferences in the Big East and ACC. It should be a good game.”

Williams has beaten Georgetown in both of the teams’ meetings during his tenure in College Park — in 1993 and 2001. Both teams were hoping their next meeting would be in the championship game Sunday night in the intimate confines of the Milk House. But that honor belongs to Gonzaga and Tennessee, which dispatched Georgetown 90-78 in the other semifinal.

Maryland’s clash with the perennial West Coast Conference power was even less suspenseful. The Terps were hoping to sustain the magic that helped them stun No. 5 Michigan State 80-62 on Thursday. Instead, the Bulldogs took full advantage of their massive frontcourt edge to quickly dispel any thoughts of another upset.

Gonzaga senior center Josh Heytvelt had a nearly flawless performance against the undersized Terps, finishing with 22 points on 9-for-10 shooting and nine rebounds. The 6-foot-11, 260-pounder punished Maryland inside and out, flashing an NBA-caliber game as he scored in the paint, finished in transition and drained both his 3-point attempts.

The Bulldogs took a 38-29 lead into intermission and steadily pulled away after the half. Heytvelt’s second 3 staked Gonzaga to a 72-52 lead with 4:06 remaining. But Heytvelt was far from a one-man show: 6-11 sophomore Austin Daye (17 points, 10 rebounds) joined him in victimizing the smaller Terps inside and propelling the Bulldogs to a 41-30 edge in rebounding.

“I was hoping to carry that momentum [of the victory over Michigan State] into this game,” Williams said. “But Gonzaga is good. I was impressed with the agility of their big people. … I think Gonzaga’s inside size hurt us a little bit, but we’re going to run into that at times this year, and we’ve got to be able to handle it better.”

Maryland compensated for its lack of a true post presence against Michigan State by riding junior guard Greivis Vasquez and torrid outside shooting to victory. Vasquez (16 points) was solid against Gonzaga, once again drawing double-teams and creating open looks for his teammates. But unlike the Spartans, Gonzaga was quicker to recover defensively and long enough to close out on Maryland’s shooters.

As a result, Vasquez’s supporting cast was largely a no-show against the Bulldogs. A night after torching the Spartans for a career-high 17 points, senior forward Dave Neal finished with just six points on eight shots. And two of Maryland’s primary complements to Vasquez (guard Eric Hayes and forward Landon Milbourne) combined to make only six of 21 shots. Most of Milbourne’s looks in the paint were contested, but Hayes had no such excuse. The junior point guard missed all four of his 3-point attempts (three of which were wide open), contributing to Maryland’s woeful performance from behind the arc (1-for-13).

“Offensively, we were pretty darned efficient,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “But we also caught them on an off night. They missed a lot of shots tonight that they made against Michigan State, and I think that made the score a little lopsided.”

Note — With 16 points against Gonzaga, Vasquez became the 47th Maryland player to score at least 1,000 points. Vasquez has 1,011 points for his career and is likely to pass Len Elmore (1,017), John Gilchrist (1,022) and Brad Davis (1,026) against the Hoyas.

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