- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 3, 2003

Maybe Maryland doesn’t need any more time to mature. The young Terrapins proved last night they are ready to contend with elite teams.

Terps center Jamar Smith’s fourth straight double-double led Maryland to a 73-67 overtime victory over No.15 Wisconsin last night before 17,950 at Comcast Center.

Smith finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds. Guard Chris McCray added 16 points, and John Gilchrist had 12. Guard Devin Harris topped Wisconsin with 24 points.

“It’s Dec. 2. This doesn’t get you anything, but it shows players if you work hard you can be a good team,” Terps coach Gary Williams said. “Hopefully, this will give us a base.”

Maryland forced overtime on forward Nik Caner-Medley’s free throw with 2.4 seconds left, then dominated the extra session by scoring underneath and at the free throw line. Smith broke a 65-65 tie with a layup with 55.5 seconds as Maryland ended the game with an 8-2 run.

“We just said we had to go inside,” Williams said. “We did a good job getting the ball in there, and Jamar finished.”

The victory was the start of a torrid stretch in which the Terps play three ranked opponents and four games in eight days. Maryland will meet No.17 Gonzaga on Saturday and either George Washington or West Virginia on Sunday in the BB&T; Classic at MCI Center before traveling to No.2 Florida on Dec.10.

The Terps hope the early season tests will prepare them for ACC play beginning Dec.28 at Florida State. After opening against three overmatched teams, Maryland finally met a formidable opponent that could rebound and would not wilt under pressure. The Terps responded with their sharpest effort so far, dictating the tempo. Wisconsin shot poorly in the first half but trailed only 30-22 at halftime.

A defensive game wasn’t surprising. The Terps entered as the ACC leader in blocked shots (8.67 a game) and turnover margin (plus-9) and ranked second in rebounding (44.3) and steals (12) while holding opponents to 36 percent shooting. Wisconsin held its first three opponents to just 47.7 points a game, partly because its deliberate play on offense allowed opponents fewer possessions.

Maryland’s pressure defense was smothering from the start, while Wisconsin failed to slow the Terps’ uptempo pace. The Terps even harassed the Badgers into calling a timeout when they were unable to inbound following a timeout with 14:40 remaining in the first half.

“My guys competitiveness and desire to win that game showed me something,” Williams said.

Wisconsin hadn’t played in College Park since losing 22-13 in 1932. It was greeted by a raucous crowd despite the 9:38p.m. start. The nationally televised game created a frenzy throughout Comcast normally reserved for Duke games. The Terps even swayed during the national anthem in anticipation. Fans cheered former major leaguer Darryl Strawberry, Maryland forward D.J. Strawberry’s father, when he arrived with his family to sit just a few rows behind the Terps’ bench.

The crowd provided a deafening roar from the start as Maryland streaked to a 12-5 lead after nearly five minutes. Wisconsin led three times in the second half, but Maryland always countered with a flurry. Still, the Badgers nearly stole the game on forward Mike Wilkinson’s 3-pointer that gave them a 61-60 lead with 12.5 seconds left before Caner-Medley sent the game to overtime.

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