- The Washington Times - Monday, March 4, 2002

Juan Dixon left the court after the final game at Cole Field House by pushing his hands toward the sky. It was time to raise the roof one last time, to say goodbye to the grand old building that housed the Maryland basketball team for 47 seasons.
It was the perfect ending.
Maryland closed its storied history at Cole with a 112-92 thumping of Virginia. With the emphatic victory, the second-ranked Terrapins completed the season with a 15-0 record in their friendly home to the delight of the 14,500 in the stands. The team will move from Cole, where it finished with a 486-151 mark from 1955 to 2002, to modern Comcast Center next season.
After the final buzzer, the Terps cut down the nets in celebration of their first outright ACC regular-season title in 22 seasons.
"This is the way it's supposed to be," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "We got everybody in the game, and the crowd was great."
Whether it was a follow slam by Chris Wilcox or a soft finish by Lonny Baxter, the Cavaliers had no answers for the relentless Terps. It didn't help the visitors that Dixon finished with 23 points, including 17 in the second half, as Maryland picked up the pace after intermission, shooting 73 percent in the second half. Wilcox was a dominating force with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Point guard Steve Blake also registered a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists. Baxter finished with 20 points and eight rebounds in his last regular season game.
Maryland finished its best regular season ever with a 25-3 record, setting a record with its 12th straight ACC win. The Terps' 15-1 ACC record is the best in program history. Maryland, which already had won its first outright conference title in 22 seasons, will be the top seed in the ACC tournament.
"Dixon and Wilcox took over the game in the second half," said Virginia coach Pete Gillen, whose team lost despite shooting 54 percent for the game. "We had a great offensive game, but our defense was pretty bad, particularly in the second half. We got a little tired because they were pounding us physically."
The Terps, who won their ninth straight over Virginia at Cole, will open the conference tournament Friday at noon at Charlotte (N.C.) Coliseum against the winner of Thursday's game between No. 8 Florida State and No. 9 Clemson. Virginia (17-10, 7-9) lost a game it badly needed to help its NCAA tournament chances.
The Cavaliers finished fifth in the league and will play No. 4 Wake Forest in the first round of the conference tournament.
Gillen yelled "can't rebound" while jumping off the Virginia bench midway through the second half when his team was beaten on the boards once again for an easy score. It was just one of many things Virginia couldn't do against Maryland, whose pounding inside game, crisp passing and transition game and strong shooting ensured Cole's final moments would be cause for celebration.
"Once we got over the emotional thing, we were fine," Gary Williams said. "… Our offense got better in the second half because we passed the ball one more time."
Maryland pulled away with a 17-6 run to open the second half as it built on a seven-point lead at intermission. Steve Blake nailed a 3-pointer on the first possession after the break to make it 46-36. A slam by Wilcox after a feed from Blake gave the Terps a 52-40 advantage. Maryland scored seven straight as Dixon scored five points in a row, including a 3-pointer from the left wing in transition, and Baxter hit a layup to go ahead 61-42.
Chris Williams led the Cavaliers with a career-high 28 points. Mouton had 11 points for the Terps, and Maryland backup shooting guard Drew Nicholas finished with 10 points. Nicholas, who made two deep 3-pointers as Maryland erased a nine-point Virginia lead with a little more than three minutes to go in the first meeting between the teams, added another pair of 3s as the Terps built a 15-point lead in the first half.


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