- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 10, 2002

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Maryland's players will spend today trying to divert their attention from a game being played in North Carolina.
The Terrapins left Charlotte last night after being upset by N.C. State in the ACC tournament semifinals. The top-seeded Terps, who came in expecting to win the ACC tournament title, instead will gather tonight at Cole Field House to watch the NCAA tournament selection show.
The second-ranked Terps could have assured themselves of their first No.1 NCAA seed by winning the ACC tournament. Although they still likely will get that honor, they now have to wait and hope the committee rewards them for their 26-4 record and ACC regular-season championship.
"It hurts right now a little bit," said Maryland guard Drew Nicholas, who doesn't plan to watch much of today's ACC title game between N.C. State and second-seeded Duke. "It doesn't take anything away from our big picture. It's a loss that's going to go down on our record, and [winning the tournament] was something we wanted to accomplish, but it wasn't our No.1 thing. That's something that is still ahead of us."
Maryland figures to be the top seed in the East or South Region and likely would play the first two rounds at MCI Center because of the new guidelines that keep higher seeds closer to home the first weekend. The Terps are shooting for a repeat trip to the Final Four and the school's first national championship.
"If we accomplish the big picture, this won't matter," Nicholas said.
Nicholas feels the Terps are worthy of a top seed. So does Maryland coach Gary Williams, who led the team to its first outright regular-season title since 1980. The Terps have not won an ACC tournament since 1984.

Head games
When N.C. State's Anthony Grundy walked to the foul line with 2.7 seconds left, his mind was racing. The Wolfpack were up by three points, and one foul shot would assure the victory. The All-ACC guard missed the first of two.
"I would say it was the toughest free throw of my life," said Grundy, a senior who finished with 24 points after scoring a career-high 32 against Virginia in Friday's quarterfinal. "There were a lot of things going through my mind. I just blanked it out and pictured me on the playground back at home. I'm always a guy who likes to keep people on the edge of their seats. I knew it was important. I knew it was a big shot, the biggest of my career."
Grundy had missed two free throws with 10 seconds left that also would have clinched the game. He cleanly sank the second foul shot to make it 86-82.

Technical trouble
The game took a major momentum swing in the first half after Maryland had battled back from an early 12-point deficit. The Terps used a 19-2 run to take a 31-26 lead on a layup by Steve Blake with 5:32 left. Maryland led 35-32 when Terps forward Tahj Holden was called for a foul as Julius Hodge was driving down the baseline. Holden walked toward the sideline, while the official went toward the scorer's table. The referee apparently heard something and called a technical on Holden.
"I really don't know what I did," Holden said of his first technical of the season. "I didn't think I fouled him. I just clapped my hands, and he called it."
Archie Miller made both technical free throws, and Hodge sank one of two to tie the game 35-35. N.C. State trailed only once more in the game and led 40-38 at halftime.
"I guess it did [change momentum]," said Williams, who seemed to bite his tongue before continuing to speak. "Tahj is a good man."
It was the Terps' second technical of the tournament after not having any in the regular season. Byron Mouton got whistled in the first-round victory over Florida State.


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