- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2004

There was a power outage inside Comcast Center last night, and the plug may soon be pulled on Maryland’s postseason hopes as well.

The Terrapins lost a critical game to 18th-ranked Georgia Tech and could be on the verge of being left out of the NCAA tournament. The Yellow Jackets easily pulled away with a 75-64 win after erasing an early nine-point deficit and getting hot from the outside in the second half.

Maryland dropped to 4-7 in the ACC and is in jeopardy of missing the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1993. The Terps (13-9 overall) remain in seventh place in the nine-team league after being swept in the two-game series by the Yellow Jackets for the first time since 1993.

“This thing is a long way from being over,” Maryland coach Gary Williams said. “We have five league games left. In this league, a lot of strange things happen.”

The Terps have five games remaining and likely need to win at least three to have a chance at an at-large bid. It could be a tall order with their next game at No.3 Duke and another at No.13 N.C. State, the top two teams in the ACC. The Terps have three remaining home games with Clemson, Virginia and No.15 Wake Forest.

“We dug ourselves into the dirt,” Maryland shooting guard Chris McCray said. “Now, we have to crawl our way out of it.”

Georgia Tech (19-7, 6-5) moved into a third-place tie with Wake Forest. Jarrett Jack led the Yellow Jackets with 21 points as the visitors shot 51 percent. Meanwhile, Maryland’s offense was again inept, shooting 32.4 percent while sinking 15 percent (3 of 20) of its 3-point attempts.

Maryland center Jamar Smith (three points, 1-for-12 from the floor), point guard John Gilchrist (four points, 1-for-7) and small forward Nik Caner-Medley (10 points, 5-for-16) all had weak shooting nights. The Terps are the only team in the ACC with a losing record (2-3) in home conference games.

“I thought we had some pretty good looks tonight, which we didn’t make,” said Williams, whose team has had chronic shooting problems all season. “It’s getting old.”

Maryland led 22-13 before power was lost on the scoreboard and shot clock over the Terps’ basket. The seven-minute break ended Maryland’s momentum. Georgia Tech scored six straight points after the interruption, and later in the half took charge with a 16-2 run to take a 35-31 lead at halftime.

“The first half was strange,” Williams said of the glitch. “But you just have to play through things like that. It just seemed like we didn’t have the fire after that.”

In the second half, Georgia Tech pulled away with a 16-7 stretch. After McCray’s baseline jumper cut Tech’s lead to 37-33, Jack scored on a 3-pointer from the top of the key and a slashing layup to push the lead to nine.

The Terps’ Travis Garrison (team-high 16 points) answered with a 3-pointer before Tech’s Isma’il Muhammad delivered an tip-in from five feet away. Georgia Tech’s Clarence Moore’s 3-pointer from the right side made it 47-38.

After a layup by Maryland’s Nik Caner-Medley, the Yellow Jackets hit a pair of backbreaking 3-pointers. Jack delivered a 3-pointer from the right side in transition. After a turnover, Muhammad drove the lane on a fastbreak before kicking it out to Jack for an easy trey form the left side to make it 53-40 with 11:56 remaining.

“Once again we put ourselves in a hole we couldn’t get out of,” Williams said. “That has, unfortunately, been a consistency of this team.”

Maryland eventually scored eight straight and cut Georgia Tech’s lead to 62-58 on D.J. Strawberry’s layup with 3:17 remaining, but Luke Schenscher then converted a three-point play to make it a seven-point edge. After McCray made a free throw, the Yellow Jackets went on a 6-0 run to ice the victory.

The Yellow Jackets shot 53.6 percent before intermission, but hurt their own cause with 11 turnovers. Meanwhile, Maryland shot 35.3 percent, making one of nine from beyond the 3-point line.

Georgia Tech took control late in the period with six consecutive points to start a 16-2 run, while Maryland scored on one of its seven possessions. Jack’s runner off the glass drew the third foul on Gilchrist, and the three-point play gave the Yellow Jackets their first lead at 31-29.

The turning point came after a power shortage, which left the scoreboard and shot clock on Maryland’s side black with 8:28 left in the first half. Maryland led 22-13 at the time and had momentum after an electrifying follow-up dunk by Garrison. Garrison carried the Terps early with 11 of the team’s first 20 points.

After a seven-minute delay, the Yellow Jackets went on a 6-0 run and cut the lead to 22-19 on B.J. Elder’s 12-foot pull-up jumper over Gilchrist.

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