- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 1, 2004

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin pulled an inside job on Maryland last night.

The Terrapins found the lanes underneath closed and the basket unreachable against an impenetrable Badgers defense, and No. 25 Wisconsin (3-1) beat No.12 Maryland 69-64 in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge before 17,142 at Kohl Center. The high-tempo, adrenaline-charged game saw Maryland (3-1) consistently unable to counter Wisconsin’s defense and saddled with fouls early in the second half.

“The first half we just couldn’t get going,” Maryland coach Gary Williams said. “We seemed tentative. It was physical out there, and we didn’t respond until the second half.”

Wisconsin’s 31st straight home win tied Stephen F. Austin for the nation’s longest current streak. Badgers coach Bo Ryan is now 42-2 at home, 13-0 after road losses.

Forward Alando Tucker led Wisconsin with 27 points, and guard Shariff Chambliss added 15. Forward Ekene Ibekwe topped Maryland with 21.

Maryland meets George Mason on Saturday in the BB&T; Classic at MCI Center.

The Terps finally found an opponent with equal speed in a rabid venue that would rival anything along Tobacco Road. Maryland didn’t buckle from its first real challenge, but it had trouble penetrating Wisconsin’s halfcourt defense as the Badgers rarely let the Terps run.

Wisconsin didn’t unravel against a Maryland press that destroyed Memphis four nights earlier. The Badgers even slipped past double-teaming to find a free man under the basket for easy points. The Terps never responded in kind as Wisconsin was seldom beaten down the floor defensively.

Maryland was bedeviled by Tucker, who scored 16 of the Badgers’ opening 20 points and regularly drew fouls. Maryland forwards Nik Caner-Medley and Travis Garrison both picked up their third fouls late in the first half even though Maryland went to its bench heavily to stay with Wisconsin’s quick pace.

The Terps returned from intermission much more deliberate underneath, scoring seven unanswered points for a 39-38 lead with 17:29 remaining on Ibekwe’s dunk that silenced the crowd. Both teams seemed more reserved in slowing the pace while looking for defensive mistakes.

Wisconsin threatened to pull away with an 8-2 run for a 46-41 edge with 14:02 remaining as Maryland couldn’t penetrate the Badgers’ defense. However, the Terps suddenly started running with Ibekwe scoring five points with a block and Garrison scoring on a layup to tie at 48-48 with 8:07 left.

The Badgers had another run in them, scoring six straight points fueled by a Maryland defensive mistake and Chambliss’ 3-pointer. Maryland refused to yield and stayed within 55-52 with 4:45 left on guard D.J. Strawberry’s 10-footer. But the Terps then missed the front end of two 1-and-1 free throws in the final minutes after faring well from the foul line in the first three games this season.

Guard Chris McCray’s 3-pointer and Ibekwe’s dunk gave Maryland one last chance before Wisconsin followed with five straight points. The Terps’ final chance ended on a steal in the final seconds.

Wisconsin led 38-32 at halftime after outplaying Maryland at the Terps’ up-tempo style. The Badgers managed to beat the Terps inside on crisper passing and filled Maryland’s passing lanes to force 12 turnovers. The Badgers’ reserves outscored the Terps’ bench 16-3.

Maryland led 11-9 at the first timeout 4:25 into the game before a deafening crowd that howled as if the hosts were running away with the lead instead of trailing.

After Wisconsin jumped to a 7-4 lead on three quick baskets underneath, Maryland went to a three-guard lineup that produced two steals during an 8-4 run for a 15-11 edge with 12:20 left in the half. Wisconsin countered with six straight points by Tucker for a 17-15 lead with 9:38 remaining.

Maryland scored only six points in five minutes on three free throws and a 3-pointer but still led 26-21. Wisconsin followed with a 12-2 streak capped by two 3-pointers for a 32-23 edge with 6:02 remaining before the Terps called a timeout.

Maryland used its press defense to close to 35-31 before both teams cooled in the final minutes. Garrison aggravated his sprained ankle during a spill with 1:43 remaining but returned for the second half.

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