- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 13, 2004

GREENSBORO, N.C. — This time Maryland had all the answers.

John Gilchrist’s free throw with 3.7 seconds gave Maryland a scintillating 87-86 win over 16th-ranked Wake Forest in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament last night at Greensboro Coliseum.

Before Gilchrist’s free throw, the Demon Deacons had scored five straight to tie it. Gilchrist missed the second foul shot off the front of the rim, but the Terrapins (17-11) couldn’t celebrate until Taron Downey’s heave from beyond halfcourt fell well short at the buzzer.

The Terps played perhaps their best game of the season, answered seemingly endless runs by Wake Forest (19-9) and uncharacteristically made free throws. Sixth-seeded Maryland made key defensive stops, controlled the rebounds and got big contributions from freshmen to upset the third-seeded Deacons, who had won the two regular-season meetings.

“We had that quiet determination that we going to find a way,” Maryland coach Gary Williams said. “We had to do all the things tonight: rebounds, free throws and matching their 3s. It was something we hadn’t done before.”

Maryland made 24 of 32 free throws and overcame a spectacular performance by Wake freshman point guard Chris Paul, who had 30 points and nine assists. All five Maryland starters reached double figures, led by Travis Garrison and Gilchrist with 16 each. Garrison also had 10 rebounds as Maryland outrebounded Wake by seven in the second half.

The Terps, who made nine of 14 3-pointers, move on to today’s semifinals, where they will meet second-seeded N.C. State. The Wolfpack rallied to defeat seventh-seeded Florida State 78-71 earlier in the evening.

Maryland, whose biggest lead was six, saw Wake battle back and trim its lead to 79-78 with 4:27 left on a 3-pointer from Jamaal Levy. However, Nik Caner-Medley answered with a 3-pointer from the right corner. After Paul’s 3-pointer again cut the lead to one, Garrison’s putback reasserted Maryland’s advantage at 84-81 with 3:35 left.

Chris McCray’s two free throws made it 86-82 with 1:48 left. Paul answered with a 3-pointer from the left side with 42 seconds left, then tied the game with two free throws to set up Gilchrist’s winning free throw.

The Terps are seeking their first tournament title since 1984 and have won three straight games for the first time since Jan.14. The Demon Deacons have lost three straight.

The Terps used an 11-3 run to build a 60-55 lead on two free throws by D.J. Strawberry with 12:22. At that point, Maryland had made 17 of 22 foul shots. Ekene Ibekwe had tied the game after the Terps won a scrum in front of their basket and the reserve center finished with layup.

Maryland took a brief lead before the half, but Levy’s slashing layup tied it 36-36 at the break.

Even though the Terps fouled early and often, Wake Forest failed to take advantage of the bonus, making only seven of 14 foul shots in the first half. Oddly, the Terps uncharacteristically made their free throws, sinking 10 of 14. They also nailed four of eight 3-pointers.

Smith picked up his second foul less than four minutes into the game and played only eight minutes in the half.

Things got heated midway through the half after Justin Gray was called for a block on Strawberry. Gray jumped up and confronted Strawberry, but the two were separated by teammates.

Maryland took a 19-18 lead on Smith’s fastbreak layup off an long outlet pass from McCray. Garrison then hit a 3-pointer gave the Terps a four-point edge.

Wake answered with four straight, including a 25-foot bomb from Gray to tie it. The Deacons took a 28-26 lead on a 3-point play by Paul and matched their biggest first-half edge at 30-26 on a twisting layup by Trent Strickland.

Maryland answered with a 4-0 run, but Wake responded with four points of its own.

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