- The Washington Times - Monday, February 25, 2002

Josh Howard immediately hung his head, knowing the gravity of what he had just done, as the raucous sellout crowd inside Cole Field House erupted in ecstasy. Howard, a Wake Forest forward, called a timeout the Demon Deacons didn't have in a tie game with 1.3 seconds left.
The officials huddled before calling a technical foul, and Juan Dixon made one of two free throws to give Maryland a 90-89 win yesterday. The second-ranked Terrapins caught a break when Howard missed a go-ahead free throw with 10 seconds left before he committed a colossal gaffe that won't soon be forgotten.
"It was like a gift," said Terps point guard Steve Blake, who had 13 assists. "I'm happy he did it. I can't feel too sorry for him. It won the game for us."
As sweet as it was for Maryland, it was more bitter for the Demon Deacons.
"I haven't seen guys cry in our locker room in a long time," said Wake Forest's Craig Dawson, who had a game-high 27 points. "It hurts. We let it slip away."
The Terps improved to 23-3 and 13-1 in the ACC for the first time in program history with the dramatic victory. Maryland won its 10th straight and moved a game ahead of Duke in the conference standings. Lonny Baxter led the Terps with 25 points, while Dixon added 20 on the day both seniors had banners hung from the rafters to commemorate their careers.
But Howard's mistake will be the lasting memory of an entertaining game that saw the Terps overcome a 12-point second-half deficit to pull out the remarkable win. Things looked bleak for Maryland after Howard was fouled by Chris Wilcox after a layin off an offensive rebound with 10.2 seconds remaining to tie the game at 89.
"I told them he was going to miss the free throw," said Maryland coach Gary Williams, who called a timeout before Howard went to the line. "Once again, what's it cost you [to be optimistic]? If we get it, let's go. We're out of timeouts. We knew what we wanted to run."
Dixon got the long rebound and raced downcourt, driving into the lane before his twisting layup rolled out. Howard, who had an otherwise spectacular game with 18 points and 15 rebounds, came down with the rebound and immediately signaled for the timeout bringing back memories of Chris Webber's infamous miscue when he did the same thing for Michigan in the 1993 national championship game loss to North Carolina.
"I must have forgotten," said Howard, who was told in the huddle by coach Skip Prosser that his team had no timeouts left. "I probably wasn't paying attention. … I let my teammates down."
Howard missed three of the last four games with a high ankle sprain and was a game-time decision to play yesterday. The junior was critical to Wake Forest's chance to win with 12 points and 12 rebounds in the second half.
Dixon made the first technical free throw to give Maryland a 90-89 lead and missed the second. The Demon Deacons' Broderick Hicks missed a desperation 25-footer at the buzzer.
Maryland improved to 14-0 at Cole this season by beating Wake Forest (18-10, 8-6 ACC) for the seventh consecutive time. The Terps can clinch at least a share of the ACC regular season title when they visit Florida State Wednesday.
The Terps overcame a porous defensive performance in the first half. Wake Forest led 56-46 at the break thanks to 22 points (27 overall) from Craig Dawson, who made six of seven 3-pointers in the half. The Deacons outhustled the Terps and shot 63 percent in the period, and their 56 points were the most against the Terps in a half this season.
"We were just sluggish, and it really shows up against a running team," said Williams, who watched Dawson routinely score over Dixon and nail 3s on fastbreaks. "They stuck it right to us. We were able to rally in the second half. That's a great win for us. A lot of teams wouldn't win that game."
The Terps shot 53 percent in the second half and 55 percent for the game. The key in the second half was their defensive play; they held the Demon Deacons to 33 percent shooting and one of nine 3s. Dawson cooled off with Byron Mouton and Dixon covering him most of the half and had just five points on four shots.
After Wake Forest took its biggest lead at 58-46 just after intermission when Darius Songaila (20 points) fed Taron Downey for a backdoor layup, the Terps responded with a 10-point run. Wilcox (13 points, nine rebounds) started the spurt with a short jump hook. Later, a steal by Mouton (19 points) led to a layup by Blake to cut the lead to four. Blake then stole the inbounds pass and fed Dixon for a layup to cut the lead to 58-56 with 17:51 remaining.
The Deacons reopened the lead to five before Maryland finally tied the game at 75-75 on a 3-pointer by Dixon with 8:02 remaining. Maryland's first lead since midway through the first half didn't come until Mouton's free throw gave the Terps a 86-85 advantage with 1:51 remaining. That came during a drought in which Wake Forest didn't score for more than four minutes.
A layin by the Deacons' Vytas Danelius off his own miss tied the game at 87-87 with 59 seconds left. Wilcox gave Maryland a two-point lead with 25 seconds left when Blake fed him for a layup on a designed play. That set up the final frantic seconds, when Howard went from giving his team a chance to take the lead to making the crucial timeout signal.
"That's just natural instinct," Williams said. "Once the game is over, you feel for that situation because Wake played so well. But that all goes into it, and sometimes you get a break and win. But I tell you what, we have a very good team, and we got close enough to where we could take advantage of a situation like that."


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