- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Yielding eight straight points to start the second half wasn’t exactly what Maryland had planned during intermission last night.

After building a 12-point lead before the break, the Terrapins let Virginia Tech right back in the game, but back-to-back 3-pointers blunted the Hokies’ momentum as the Terps won 86-71 at Comcast Center.

The win, coupled with Georgia Tech’s 70-62 victory at Clemson, puts the Terps, Hokies, Yellow Jackets and Miami in a four-way tie for fourth place in the ACC. After back-to-back losses on the road and with a tussle with No. 7-ranked Duke on tap this weekend, Maryland (14-7, 5-5 ACC) needed to bounce back against the Hokies (12-9, 5-5)

“After last week, you have to worry about your confidence,” coach Gary Williams said. “I told them we played too good in the first 20 minutes to let this happen.”

Point guard John Gilchrist had one of his best offensive games of the season, scoring 19 points and handing out a career-high 10 assists. He hit the first 3-pointer after Virginia Tech had cut the lead to 42-38, then found Chris McCray for a wide open long-range shot on a nicely executed four-on-two.

McCray was the story early, scoring 13 of his 16 points in the first half. After Virginia Tech raced to a 9-3 lead, McCray scored 11 of the Terps’ next 13 points on a variety of jump shots and slashes to the basket.

“With the plays that we run, there are a lot of opportunities for [McCray],” Gilchrist said. “When he’s making his shots and being more aggressive, we are a way better team, and he realizes that.”

Sophomore Mike Jones didn’t play much in the first half, but he reeled off 13 points in the second 20 minutes. Jones, who is better known for his prowess from beyond the 3-point arc, did his damage in the paint, making all six of his shots without attempting a 3-pointer.

Williams said he liked the matchup on the low block, and Jones displayed some nifty post moves that some of the Maryland big men could have taken notes on.

Jones’ classmate, Will Bowers, didn’t start for the first time since the team’s home loss to N.C. State, but he entered quickly because of Travis Garrison’s foul troubles. Garrison was pulled after 93 seconds in the first half for picking up two quick fouls and then again 94 seconds into the second half because of his third offense.

Bowers and seldom-used Mike Grinnon took advantage with Garrison on the bench and Ekene Ibekwe unavailable for the second straight game with back problems. Bowers made all three of his shots, and Grinnon had a steal, a blocked shot and a rebound in eight first-half minutes.

“I think our entire bench really stepped it up, and that’s what makes a good team,” Grinnon said. “Guys have to pick each other up.”

Freshman James Gist made his first career start and finished with eight points and seven rebounds. His back-to-back dunks put the Terps ahead by double-digits in the first half and whipped the smaller than normal crowd into a frenzy.

Nik Caner-Medley led the Terps with 21 points and tied Gist for the team lead in rebounds. He and Gilchrist combined to make 13 of 14 free throws, and the Terps shot 90.5 percent from the line.

Students chanted “Bring on Duke!” as the final seconds ticked away. When the Blue Devils come to Comcast, the Terps will be looking for an almost unthinkable regular-season sweep of the Blue Devils.

“The hype is great,” Caner-Medley said. “You know, hype it up, bring Duke in here and let’s have another great game.”

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