- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 9, 2002

CHARLOTTE, N.C. N.C. State has lost six consecutive games to Maryland, including twice this season. The last time the Wolfpack beat the Terrapins was Jan. 6, 2000, a 68-66 victory in Raleigh, N.C. That was the only time in the last 10 meetings that Maryland has lost.

The fourth-seeded Wolfpack get another chance to end their run of futility in today's semifinals. N.C. State already has locked up its first NCAA bid since 1991 as it prepares to challenge the ACC's top seed.

"We have to be at our best," said N.C. State guard Anthony Grundy, who had 32 points and made four of six 3-pointers in yesterday's 92-72 quarterfinal blowout of Virginia. "We have to also maintain a constant level mentally. The game is much more mental than it is physical."

Grundy, a first-team All-ACC selection, is the prime reason for the Wolfpack's breakout season. The 6-foot-3 senior averaged 17.4 points and 5.5 rebounds and is the team's top defender. He will be matched up with Maryland star Juan Dixon today.

"It has been a storybook season for me," Grundy said, "but our team has done a great job of sticking together and winning games. We've got to keep it going. It's still a long way before our season's over."


Cavalier calamity

Virginia is staring at a NIT bid after a season that saw the Cavaliers ranked No.4 in the country coming into conference play in January. Virginia's ACC quarterfinal loss to N.C. State was its fifth defeat in six games and ninth in 12.

The Cavaliers allowed their last six opponents to shoot better than 50 percent. The Wolfpack won by 20 points as they shot 60 percent.

Nonetheless, Virginia will be watching when the NCAA pairings are announced tomorrow and hoping against odds for a postseason gift from the selection committee.

"I guess I'm not supposed to comment," Cavaliers guard Roger Mason Jr. said. "But of 64 teams, I think we deserve to be in it. We beat the defending national champion [Duke], and I wish we could have won today. It is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Some games we are in; others we are not."

Virginia has a 17-11 record and was 7-9 in the ACC regular season. Florida State earned an NCAA berth in 1998 after going 6-10 in conference, but a repeat of that scenario is unlikely. A realistic possibility is the NIT and a possible rematch of the 2000 tournament game when it lost to Georgetown in triple overtime.

It's not hard to trace the Cavaliers' swoon. Virginia never recovered after blowing a nine-point lead against Maryland with 3:14 left at University Hall on Jan.31. Late-season losses to Florida State and Georgia Tech cost the Cavaliers, and even last week's comeback upset of No.3 Duke probably won't save them.


Big batteries

While Maryland's starting front line of Lonny Baxter and Chris Wilcox had difficulties yesterday, reserve big men Ryan Randle and Tahj Holden came in and gave the Terps a boost of intensity, particularly in the decisive 21-0 second-half run. The 6-foot-9, 245-pound Randle was a physical presence while contributing six points, three rebounds and three blocked shots in 11 minutes. The 6-10 Holden (four points) helped run the offense as Maryland regained momentum.

"Tahj Holden and Ryan Randle came in and did a great job for us," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "We did not seem to have much energy early. I really thought the other players really fed off those guys."

Baxter finished with 10 points and five rebounds but had just two points after halftime. Wilcox had a poor outing with four points on 1-for-7 shooting, including missing a dunk hard off the rim, but the sophomore did contribute eight rebounds.


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