- The Washington Times - Monday, December 8, 2003

West Virginia’s Patrick Beilein appeared to break open the consolation game of the BB&T; Classic yesterday with a flurry of 3-pointers.

Then his offense disappeared as Maryland fought back from a 16-point deficit to force overtime. But Beilein was there in the extra session to seal the Mountaineers’ 78-77 victory with a pair of free throws before a sparse crowd at MCI Center.

“We are not Gonzaga, and we are not going to be able to put away a team of that caliber,” said West Virginia coach John Beilein, Patrick’s father. “The fact that they tied it and were up by three in overtime before we won was huge for us to understand what it takes to win a game.”

Beilen’s foul shots put West Virginia (4-2) ahead 78-74 with 12 seconds left. Terrapins point guard John Gilchrist missed a 3-pointer, but seldom-used junior Mike Grinnon, inserted into the game when Travis Garrison fouled out moments earlier, corralled the rebound and was fouled with four seconds remaining.

Grinnon made the first free throw but missed the second. Senior Jamar Smith grabbed his 13th rebound of the game, but instead of kicking the ball out to the perimeter for a potential game-tying 3-pointer, he opted for a putback and cut the lead to one with 1.5 seconds remaining.

The Terps (4-2) didn’t have any timeouts left but nearly forced a five-second violation before the Mountaineers called time. After the short break, West Virginia’s Drew Schifino grabbed the inbounds pass and dribbled out of danger before heaving the ball over the far basket in celebration as time expired.

Smith had a game-high 23 points to go with the 13 rebounds for his fifth double-double in six games. The backcourt combination of Gilchrist (15 points) and Chris McCray (16) combined for 31 points and 14 assists while committing 12 turnovers. Schifino led West Virginia with 18 points.

It was the first time in the nine-year history of the BB&T; Classic that Maryland has lost both games.

“We just played a Big East team out there today,” coach Gary Williams said. “We do not play a bunch of cupcakes, and now we have to come back and play the No.1 team in the country [Second-ranked Florida likely will be No. 1 in this week’s poll]. There is nothing there saying whether we’re good or anything. We could be 6-0 if I scheduled this year differently.”

The most glaring concern for Maryland is 3-point defense. Less than 24 hours after Gonzaga made 13 long-distance shots, West Virginia tied a program record with 13 of its own. Kevin Pittsnogle made the last of West Virginia’s threes with 3:43 left in overtime to give the Mountaineers the lead for good at 71-69.

“It happened again, 3-point shots just killed us,” Smith said. “By the time we figured it out and came back from the lead, it took a lot out of us.”

That the Terps even forced overtime was an accomplishment. Beilein made 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions as the Mountaineers led 61-45 with 13:41 left. But after a timeout, Maryland scored 14 consecutive points to erase the large deficit.

Maryland had a chance to win the game in regulation. With 16 seconds left, McCray stepped to the free throw line with the Terps down one. His first offering glanced off the front of the rim, but he nailed the second to tie it 66-66.

“We have to prove which team we are,” Williams said. “We have to prove if we are the team that beat Wisconsin, or the team that was down 16 today. We have to decide which team we want to be.”

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