- The Washington Times - Friday, January 31, 2003

Maryland guard Drew Nicholas needed more than 25 minutes to score. Then he couldn't stop.
Nicholas' three 3-pointers paced a 19-3 second-half run to lead the Terrapins to a 75-60 victory over N.C. State last night before 17,950 at Comcast Center.
No. 10 Maryland (13-4, 6-1) got its fourth straight victory in the first-place showdown to take a 1-game ACC lead over N.C. State (11-5, 4-2). Maryland plays host to Loyola on Sunday in its final non-conference contest this season before finishing with nine ACC games.
"It was a great effort in the second half," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "We struggled early. The characteristic of this year's team is we have to use the bench and they came through for us."
Guard Steve Blake led Maryland with 20 points with forward Tahj Holden and Nicholas adding 13 each. Forward Marcus Melvin topped N.C. State with 15.
The game was briefly delayed with 5:47 remaining after a frightening fall by N.C. State forward Josh Powell under the Maryland basket. He didn't return.
Former Maryland coach Lefty Driesell was honored at halftime. Flashing his trademark "V" for victory hand sign while the crowd sang "Amen" that signaled victory during Driesell's 1970-86 tenure, Lefty was presented a memento by former Maryland star Len Elmore during a brief appearance.
The first-place showdown included a fitting series of lead changes and aggressive play underneath with officials calling six fouls in the opening minutes to settle the tempo. Neither team gained much of a lead over the first 30 minutes as defense prevented play from running fluidly until Maryland pulled away with 8:46 left.
The Terps weren't troubled by the Wolfpack's steady flow on a team with five solid ballhandlers. N.C. State whipped the ball around the court regularly, but Maryland countered with a smothering man defense that included an occasional tight press.
However, Maryland was harried underneath when unable to work the ball inside. Center Ryan Randle only took two first-half shots while the starting frontcourt ended with 25 points after a late rush. Conversely, N.C. State was often silent outside, hitting nine of 24 3-pointers.
Blake delivered one of his better outings this season in trying to jump start the sometimes-sluggish offense. Blake broke a press early for an easy layup and sank consecutive 3-pointers for a short-lived late first-half lead. He scored eight of the first 10 points of the second half.
Maryland opened slowly for the third time in four games, trailing 10-4 before scoring six straight points underneath to tie. N.C. State came back for a 15-10 lead after Julius Hodge notched a basket and a free throw with 12:33 remaining. Hodge slapped the floor near midcourt when daring Nicholas to dribble past as the crowd hooted at the Wolfpack guard.
The streaky play continued with Maryland taking its first lead 16-15 on Blake's 15-footer with 8:10 remaining. The teams then traded leads eight times plus two ties before N.C. State gained a 28-26 edge with 12 seconds left on guard Clifford Crawford's layup. Maryland countered with forward Nik Caner-Medley's free throw with 5.1 seconds remaining to make it 28-27 at halftime.
Maryland opened the second half with 3-pointers by Blake and Holden, respectively, for then its largest lead, 33-28, before N.C. State took a timeout after just 78 seconds. N.C. State rallied to tie at 38 with 15:31 left.
Maryland then rode Nicholas' sudden emergence with three 3-pointers during the 19-3 streak. However, N.C. State followed with 10 unanswered points to close to 60-54 with 5:18 left. Blake countered with two free throws with 3:49 left when Crawford fouled out. Caner-Medley then converted a short jumped as the shot clock expired for a 64-54 lead and a layup 17 seconds later only to foul out with 2:07 left with nine points.

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