- The Washington Times - Monday, December 9, 2002

Drew Nicholas drained a 3-pointer late in the first half, turned around and tapped his heart with his fist. After Maryland looked like it needed a transplant in a first-round loss at the BB&T; Classic a day earlier, the ninth-ranked Terrapins showed their blood is still pumping with a 93-82 victory yesterday over George Washington in the tournament's consolation game at MCI Center.
Terps point guard Steve Blake scored a career-high 27 points on 10 of 12 shooting and did an excellent job setting up the offense. Nicholas had 27 points, and the senior shooting guard made a point of being more demonstrative. Blake and Nicholas each made five of seven 3-pointers as Maryland shot a blistering 71 percent (12 of 17) from long distance.
"None of us looked like we even wanted to play basketball when we lost to Notre Dame," said Nicholas of the Fighting Irish's 79-67 upset on Saturday. "That loss changed us. Our backs were against the ropes, and we responded. That's a great characteristic."
The Terps (4-2) still have not beaten an upper-echelon team and will get their final shot before the ACC starts later this month when No. 8 Florida visits Comcast Center on Saturday.
Maryland was outrebounded 42-31 yesterday but made up for that with spectacular shooting. The Terps had a 21-3 advantage on fastbreak points.
The Terps lost a hard-fought overtime game at Indiana on Tuesday in which they were pleased with their intensity. Saturday's lackluster loss, which included 29 percent shooting in the first half, was much more distressing. The Terps had 10 assists against the Fighting Irish, while posting 24 against GW.
"We're a lot better off right now than we were at this time yesterday," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "That was a confidence-shaker yesterday. There is no doubt about it. [The loss at] Indiana was one thing. But the way we played against Notre Dame, we didn't feel good about it at all. I wasn't sure how we would come out today."
GW (3-3) led by as many as 12 in the first half but couldn't match Maryland's firepower. Chris Monroe led the Colonials with 19 points but shot just 4-for-16 from the field.
"Blake and Nicholas played the way seniors are supposed to play, particularly when they find themselves in a bit of a hole," Colonials coach Karl Hobbs said. "They played like guys who won a national championship, and they played like cagey veterans. They were the difference in the game."
Blake keyed the surge in erasing GW's 31-19 first-half lead. The senior point guard was involved in the 12 points that tied the game and sparked a 21-6 Maryland run. He drew the defense with dribble penetration before dishing to Travis Garrison for a basket to start the stretch and scored the next 10, including two 3-pointers, before tying the game at 31 on a fastbreak layup.
Williams spoke with Blake at the team hotel Saturday night after the game against Notre Dame, in which Blake made five of 17 shots and never settled the offense against the Irish's match-up zone.
"I think he really took it upon himself to get us into the offense early in the game," Williams said. "It wasn't necessary for him to initiate the shooting. His points usually come when he starts to run the offense and teams have to adjust to people scoring elsewhere. All of a sudden Steve Blake is open."
Blake played shooting guard during Maryland's comeback, while freshman John Gilchrist took over the point. The move created opportunities for Blake, who was able to get open as a result of set plays.
"When I'm in that position, I can look to score more," said Blake, who also had seven assists. "I used screens to get open shots, and I made them."
After Maryland tied the game at 31, Monroe answered with a 4-point play after getting fouled while sinking a 3-pointer to make it 35-31. Maryland scored seven straight to take a 40-37 lead Nicholas got the Terps within one on a 3-pointer from the left corner, and Blake gave Maryland the lead for good at 38-37 on a slicing layup. Calvin McCall finished the run with 10-foot jumper.
Maryland led 48-43 at halftime despite getting outrebounded 21-12. Nicholas made four of five 3-pointers in the period and Maryland hit eight of 12 as a team.
After a twisting layup by GW's Pops Meshah-Bonsu cut the Terps' lead to 48-45 on the first possession of the second half, Maryland began to take control of the game. Blake's 3-pointer started a run, and Nicholas finished it with a steal at midcourt which he turned into a breakaway layup and a 55-45 Maryland advantage.
The Terps led by as many as 20 in the second half, before a late rally by GW got it within nine.
"We started to get the ball inside and that opened up some outside looks for Drew Nicholas and Steve Blake," Williams said. "All of a sudden we got cooking pretty good there for about the last 10 minutes of the first half and first 10 minutes of the second half. It was great to see for us. At the same time, we have a lot of things to work on the killer instinct. I think we relaxed with about seven minutes left thinking we had the game won. We are getting there."

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