- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 6, 2005

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Maryland coach Gary Williams thought he could steal a game by staying close and making the last play.

It nearly worked.

The Terrapins came within a charging call of taking the lead and within a split second of reaching a second overtime. However, Miami forward William Frisby’s two free throws with eight-tenths of a second remaining gave the Hurricanes a 75-73 overtime victory yesterday before 7,000 at Convocation Center.

“I thought we were going to win the game at the end,” Williams said, “but we didn’t get it. We should have sent that thing into [a second] overtime. We should have had that overtime. You can win those games if you hang close. On the road, you’ll take it going down to the last two minutes and take your chances.”

Maryland (13-7, 4-5 ACC) lost its second road game to a reeling team in five days with another foul-prone effort plus poor perimeter defense, spotty foul shooting and poor ballhandling. The Terps fell into offensive droughts, rarely penetrated Miami’s defense and fumbled away enough plays to cost them another game.

Maryland still could have won, though. The Terps neutralized Miami guard Guillermo Diaz on the final play of overtime by using a box-and-one defense for the first time in the game. Diaz, the ACC’s second-leading scorer behind Duke guard J.J. Redick, nearly won it in regulation with a 3-pointer that officials ruled came after the buzzer.

Diaz (27 points) was blocked out of the final overtime play by Terps guard Chris McCray, and Miami guard Robert Hite shot an airball in desperation. That was exactly what Maryland wanted until guard Mike Jones fouled Frisby on the rebound. A lengthy official review ruled 0.8 seconds remained. Frisby smiled slightly at the line before converting the game-winners.

“I didn’t know how much time was left on the clock,” Frisby said. “I wasn’t really nervous. I was happy that I was going to have a chance to win the game.”

Said Williams: “That’s our rebound. We don’t get it. We foul them. They make the foul shot and win the game. … You have to step up and make plays in crucial situations, and we didn’t.”

The first meeting between the teams in 35 years showed the ACC’s newcomer can beat a mid-level conference foe. Miami (14-7, 5-5) made Maryland look slow as its guards buzzed through the lanes. The Hurricanes forced the Terps to look for alternate scorers after forward Nik Caner-Medley was silenced for the first 16 minutes before finishing with just eight points.

Ultimately, Miami made Maryland counterpunch in a tight game, and the Terps just couldn’t deliver the decisive blow.

“They wanted to win. We just played just to play,” guard John Gilchrist said. “It’s hard to finish teams off when you’re playing at their house.”

Maryland needed McCray’s career-high 23 points, Jones’ 14 points and seven rebounds off the bench and even a quick six-point burst by center Will Bowers to stay close. The Terps’ defense checked Miami midway through the second half to overcome a nine-point deficit. Maryland even rediscovered its outside stroke with a season-high 11 3-pointers, McCray and Jones making four each.

However, Maryland committed 19 turnovers while its four frontcourt players endured foul troubles. Coupled with forward Ekene Ibekwe deciding not to play because of back problems during warmups, the Terps’ big men couldn’t outplay Miami’s lackluster frontcourt.

“Any close game comes down to all those little things,” Williams said. “You have to get loose balls. You have to rebound. You have to play defense, and the offense comes after that.”

Echoed Caner-Medley: “Couple loose balls, couple rebounds made the difference.”

Maryland continued its recent run of starting slowly. Foul woes bedeviled the frontcourt with Travis Garrison sitting the last 5:30 of the first half with three. The Terps committed 12 turnovers, shot only 31 percent and missed six of 10 free throws in the half. Miami led 29-26 at intermission despite converting only 20.6 percent from the field (7-for-34) because Maryland tied its season-low for first-half scoring.

Miami used five 3-pointers to remain ahead 48-45 midway through the second half. Maryland countered with six 3-point plays to finally lead 60-57 with 6:06 remaining. The teams traded the lead three times before Garrison sank two free throws with 3.9 seconds remaining to force overtime.

Maryland never led in overtime. McCray’s 3-pointer with 1:16 remaining pulled the Terps even at 73-73, but Caner-Medley’s go-ahead layup with 13.9 seconds left was ruled charging.

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