ATLANTA A lucky shot beat Maryland yesterday.
Maryland rallied to within two points late in the game after trailing by 13 in the second half, somehow on the verge of stealing a victory in a game it had not led since early in the first half.
Georgia Tech looked confused, unable to run its play. Instead of resetting the offense, guard Jarrett Jack hurried a 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining on the shot clock, a mistake of inexperience from the freshman out of Fort Washington. But the ball smacked hard off the glass and went in for a five-point lead with 39 seconds remaining.
“Silly freshman. He just kind of went and did his own thing,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said. “Lucky for us.”
Maryland’s momentum was gone, and Georgia Tech won 90-84 before 9,191 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The No.8 Terps (14-6, 6-3) fell from first place in the ACC after their second straight loss. Maryland visits Florida State on Wednesday.
The Terps were outplayed and still almost won after wearing down the Yellow Jackets. Maryland shot only 42.2 percent, made six of 21 3-pointers, committed turnovers at critical moments and had seven shots blocked.
Still, Jack’s shot, which put Georgia Tech up 85-80, saved the Yellow Jackets.
“When it left my hand I knew it was going in,” he said. “I didn’t know whether it would be all net or bank. As it went in I had a smirk on my face. I called it afterwards.”
The Terps couldn’t believe it. They suckered the Yellow Jackets into a trap, and Jack still hit the 3 from 20 feet.
“That was the shot we wanted,” guard Steve Blake said. “He shot it long. I don’t think he tried to use the backboard. That hurt.”
Said guard Drew Nicholas: “Jack hits that shot and breaks our back.”
Twenty-four scouts who were in town for the NBA All-Star Game came to see center Chris Bosh, who was held to 10 points and 11 rebounds in 27 minutes because of foul trouble. Instead, forward B.J. Elder led Georgia Tech with 23 points, while Nicholas’ 18 paced Maryland.
The heavy homecourt edge was apparent in the deafening bandbox. Georgia Tech (12-8, 5-4) improved to 11-0 at home compared to 0-7 on the road and 1-1 at neutral sites.
“Georgia Tech is a different team here,” Maryland coach Gary Williams said. “They seem quicker here. A lot of times with a young team that’s the way it is.”
Indeed, Hewitt was confident Georgia Tech would win the rematch after it left Comcast Center with an 84-77 loss Dec.29.
“The last game I thought we were right there. We were confident walking out of Comcast,” he said.
Maryland outrebounded Georgia Tech 38-37 with 21 offensive rebounds, but the Terps were regularly beaten by the Yellow Jackets’ quickness in the first half. Georgia Tech converted 55.6 percent of its shots, the best against Maryland this season.
“We didn’t play any defense. We just couldn’t get any stops. When you’re on the road down that much it’s tough fighting back and keeping the momentum,” Nicholas said. “We’re just not working hard enough. That’s got to be an answer. We don’t let people shoot [55.6 percent].”
Maryland trailed 42-34 in the first half after Georgia Tech used a 14-0 run to turn a five-point deficit into a 31-22 lead with 4:52 remaining. The Terps’ outside game was almost nonexistent, with Caner-Medley’s 15-footer with 1:40 left the only Maryland points that didn’t come from around the basket. Maryland converted only 15 of 45 shots, missing all eight 3-point attempts. Nicholas and Blake only managed two points each, shooting a combined 1-for-12.
Georgia Tech led 60-47 with 12:32 remaining, but Maryland steadily crawled back. Maryland closed to 79-75 with 2:48 remaining before Georgia Tech countered with three points underneath. Center Ryan Randle’s 10-footer and Nicholas’ 3-pointer made it 82-80 before Jack ended the drama.
“Down the stretch they could have folded, but they continued to make big shots,” Hewitt said of Maryland. “We were right in their face, and Nicholas and Blake made some tough, tough shots.”