- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 23, 2003

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. The Maryland Terrapins passed their road test in a runaway.
No.12 Maryland dominated North Carolina with repeated plays underneath to defeat the Tar Heels 81-66 last night before an announced 21,750 at Dean Smith Center. It was the Terps' first victory on an opponent's floor this season.
Maryland (11-4, 4-1) took its third straight victory over North Carolina (11-6, 2-2) for the first time since 1965, when coach Gary Williams was a Terps guard. It also was Maryland's first sweep of Duke and North Carolina in consecutive games since 1980. The Terps play them again consecutively on Feb.19 and 22.
"It's been a 180-degree spin since losing at Wake Forest [a week earlier]," guard Drew Nicholas said. "But this can't be the highlight of the season. We have a lot of goals to accomplish."
Nicholas led Maryland with 20 points. Guard Steve Blake added 17, and center Ryan Randle scored 16 with 10 rebounds. Forward Rashad McCants topped North Carolina with 26.
The victory wasn't worry-free despite Maryland building a 17-point first-half lead. The Terps' concern after beating No.1 Duke on Saturday at Comcast Center was whether Maryland could handle harsh road conditions. Certainly, the North Carolina crowd was as intense as any Maryland may see this season.
The din continued even when the Tar Heels trailed by more than 10 points. Any North Carolina score was met with a roar, and Maryland needed to show it could counter a hostile crowd after losing at Wake Forest. Indeed, Maryland was only 1-3 away from Comcast Center.
"You start thinking about it," Williams said. "You preach all the time about the consistency of playing the same on the road and at home. At times, I thought we played as well as home."
Said forward Tahj Holden: "It was a point of growing up. We needed a road win because a lot of people said we couldn't play against good competition away from Comcast."
The proof came early in the second half after North Carolina scored the first five points to close to 39-36 with 17:48 remaining. Randle scored on a tip-in, but North Carolina countered with guard Raymond Felton's 3-pointer to close to 41-39.
But freshman guard John Gilchrist scored two quick baskets and forward Calvin McCall made a layup to give Maryland a 47-39 lead with 14:32 remaining. North Carolina's sole basket in nearly eight minutes was followed by an 8-0 Maryland streak underneath to cap a 14-2 run.
"We've been in the situation before where teams took their best shot," Holden said. "We just have to give it our best shot back."
The streak illustrated Maryland's plan to exploit North Carolina's lack of size with center Sean May idled by a broken foot. The Terps outrebounded the hosts 45-35 as forwards Jamar Smith, Holden and Randle regularly worked without impediment on the boards.
Still, North Carolina mildly threatened again. Maryland managed only 3-pointers by Blake and Nicholas over nearly six minutes while North Carolina went on a 12-6 streak to close to 61-53 with 5:12 left. However, Randle then scored twice underneath for a 65-53 lead.
North Carolina again closed to 68-60 with 1:37 remaining on forward Jawad Williams' 3-pointer. Maryland countered by playing stall ball to burn the clock before Blake made two free throws with 1:18 left and added six more over the last 36 seconds. Nicholas capped the triumph with a fastbreak dunk that drew the remaining crowd's wrath.
"Carolina plays with a great deal of emotion. They just won't quit," Williams said. "We had them down a couple times. They did a great job coming back from 17 to two, but it takes a lot out of you."
Perhaps the only drawback was a lackluster free throw effort, with the Terps missing their only attempt in the first half. Maryland finished 14-for-25 with Blake's 9-for-10 the only positive note. Conversely, Maryland made 29 of 31 while beating Duke.
Maryland started with an 8-2 run over 99 seconds and never lost the lead. The Terps later used 10-0 and 11-0 runs to lead by 17 with 3:25 remaining in the first half. However, North Carolina countered with an 11-2 streak to close within 39-31 at the break.

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