- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Maryland rediscovered its defense, and first place in the ACC last night.
The No.13 Terrapins dominated No.10 Wake Forest's vaunted frontcourt to earn a 90-67 victory before 14,222 at Comcast Center. The win gave Maryland (16-6, 8-3 ACC) a half-game lead over Wake Forest (17-4, 7-3) in the ACC with six games remaining. Maryland, which has five games left in league play, travels to Duke tomorrow.
The Terps beat the Demon Deacons at their own game, outrebounding them 44-24. It was the first time Wake Forest, which leads the nation in rebounding margin (12.5), was outrebounded this season.
It was a good night for the Maryland seniors. Center Ryan Randle posted his sixth double-double of the season (13 points and 13 rebounds) and forward Calvin McCall scored nine points to go with seven rebounds off the bench. Forward Tahj Holden added 15 points and four rebounds.
"We emphasized rebounding and everybody went to the glass," McCall said.
Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser dismissed Wake Forest's lackluster effort on waiting an extra day to play because of the snow.
"I didn't see any snow on the court," he said. "Maryland beat us every which way possible."
Instead, the extra day's rest seemed to refresh the Terps, who played their best game since beating North Carolina on Jan.22. Maryland's offense flowed effectively for the first time in seven games and produced its most points in the last 10 games.
"We weren't playing defense in the games we lost and that hurt our offense," guard Steve Blake said. "Now that we're playing defense again it's turning into good baskets and getting a good rhythm."
Blake led Maryland with 21 points in his team-record 127th start while fellow guard Drew Nicholas added 19. The seniors showed their long-time chemistry together with precision passing underneath and on the run. Blake, who had nine assists, surpassed 900 for his career.
"Steve and Drew are pretty tough with the ball right now and it gives us a good combination," coach Gary Williams said.
Blake converted 12 of 13 free throws, both career highs. Maryland made a season-high 27 of 30 free throws to help thwart a Wake Forest run that cut the Terps' lead to 63-57 with 10:08 remaining.
It was a fitting payback for the 81-72 loss at Wake Forest on Jan.15, considered one of the Terps' worst efforts this season. The Comcast Center crowd jeered Wake Forest forward Josh Howard during pregame warmups, but the ACC Player of the Year candidate simply retorted with a "Kicked your [butt] last time."
Howard scored 20 points and added seven rebounds, but rarely dominated the game. Instead, Maryland gambled by sagging underneath defensively and dared Wake Forest to make 3-pointers, which it didn't. Wake converted only seven of 23 from beyond the arc.
"It was a complete focus on rebounding," Holden said. "Keep them off the boards and making second shots. Most of their points have come off second shots."
Maryland trailed 12-6 before forward Nik Caner-Medley awakened the crowd with a thunderous dunk. Suddenly, Maryland went on a 16-6 run as six different players scored. McCall's aggressive rebounding seemed to inspire his teammates to play harder.
"It took us a couple minutes to really get ready to rebound well, but once we got started we were fine," Williams said.
Wake Forest didn't score a basket for nearly eight minutes and trailed 25-17. The Deacons got a dunk for their only conversion in the final five minutes of the half as Maryland took a 41-31 halftime lead.
The Terps opened the second half determined to dominate underneath and scored the first seven points for a 48-31 lead with 17:30 left. Wake Forest managed a 12-2 run to close to 50-43 and later cut the lead to 63-57. However, McCall's tip-in sparked a 9-2 Maryland streak that essentially iced the game at 72-59 with 6:10 remaining. The Terps scored their next 16 points on free throws, including six by Blake.

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