- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 15, 2001


It got so bad at Cole Field House last night that Maryland students were booing their own team as it headed to the locker room at halftime. That was only a harbinger of the ultimate horror.

After unveiling a new starting lineup with seldom-used freshman Chris Wilcox at power forward and switching Terence Morris to small forward, the No. 17 Terps promptly had a miserable showing in a shocking 74-71 loss to Florida State.

The Seminoles came in with only six wins in the season and a 1-9 record in the league. They had lost to Maryland 10 straight times, including by 21 earlier this season in Tallahassee.

The Terps had been considered a guarantee for the NCAA tournament. However, after losing five of its past six, Maryland is stuck in reverse and must rebound if it is to return to the NCAA tournament for an eighth straight season.

"I'm disappointed in myself," said Maryland coach Gary Williams, whose Terps dropped to a 15-9 record and 6-6 in the ACC. "I think in this situation, I have to look at myself as a coach and try to understand why we go and do certain things, why our emotional level isn't where it needs to be to play in the ACC."

Despite all the poor play, the Terps had a chance to pull it out in the final moment, but Terence Morris missed an open 3-pointer that would have given Maryland the lead with 15 seconds remaining. And Juan Dixon and Drew Nicholas both missed desperation 3-pointers on the game's final possession before the Seminoles flooded the floor in wild celebration.

"We are just a bunch of guys out there instead of a team," said Terps center Mike Mardesich after his team committed 18 turnovers and shot 34.5 percent in the first half. "The only way we can get out of this is if we go home tonight and we don't sleep. It has to mean more to us. We're kind of just going through the motions. If we sleep well tonight and just come out and have a decent practice, we're not going to get out of this."

Point guard Delvon Arrington led the Seminoles (7-17, 2-9 ACC) with 17 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Antwaun Dixon hit two free throws to give the visitors a 74-71 lead with 15 seconds left.

Wilcox, who started for Byron Mouton, had a strong outing with 13 points on 6-for-7 shooting but had little support. Morris was silent most of the night and finished with eight points. Juan Dixon's slump continued as he made just three of 11 shots and had 14 points. Center Lonny Baxter was ineffective before fouling out with 5:22 left, as totaling eight points on four of 11 shooting.

"You have to be ready to play and we weren't ready to play coming out tonight," said Williams, who blasted the crowd for booing him in his postgame interview.

Maryland cut the lead to 42-39 in the second half on a steal by Wilcox off the press and a short shot by the freshman, but Florida State stayed poised and built the lead back up with a 7-2 run. A spinning shot in the lane by Michael Crawford converted into a traditional 3-point play. Later, Crawford drew the fourth personal on Baxter with 11:52 remaining.

The Seminoles went up 57-48 on Arrington's layup off a turnover by Mouton before the Terps rallied again by forcing turnovers off the press and Florida State mistakes. Morris' layup off Steve Blake's entry pass cut the deficit to 58-54. A putback and foul shot by the Seminoles' Mike Mathews widened the lead back to seven. Later, Juan Dixon cut the lead to 63-59 with a 3-pointer from 5:35 remaining.

Baxter fouled out with 5:22 left, but the Terps were able to come back without him. Morris made two free throws, and Maryland got the ball back after Florida State missed five shots, including having two blocked, on its next possession before Drew Nicholas got the long rebound. Morris converted two free throws and the Terps were within one with 3:08 remaining.

However, the Seminoles answered with five straight. An Antwaun Dixon layup made it a 3-point game, before Crawford stole the ball from Juan Dixon and Mathews scored on a follow to make it 70-65 with 1:30 left.

Two 3-pointers by Blake got the Terps within 72-71, but the Terps failed to convert in the end, and the Seminoles went wild in celebration.

Maryland played perhaps its worst half of the season while falling behind 33-24 at the break. The Terps shot 34 percent and committed 12 turnovers and were outrebounded by four.

The Terps looked awful from the beginning as Florida State was more aggressive and confident. Williams benched his starting lineup except Wilcox with the Seminoles leading 14-5 with 14:34 left in the first half. It didn't help as the reserve continued the feeble showing as the visitors built a 25-14 lead by converting fast breaks off turnovers.

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