- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 9, 2005

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The white flag went up with 14 minutes remaining when Maryland coach Gary Williams pulled his starters with the Terrapins trailing by 24 points. The nationally televised college basketball showdown had turned into a scrimmage.

No. 3 North Carolina won its 13th straight with a 109-75 thumping of No.22 Maryland yesterday before 21,750 at Smith Center. It was the most points for the Tar Heels against Maryland and their biggest margin in the series since 1993. It also was Maryland’s largest defeat since a 105-70 loss to UCLA in the 2000 NCAA tournament and the most points the Terps have permitted in 14 years.

In a word, ouch!

“When you get beat that bad, it hurts your pride,” forward Nik Caner-Medley said. “You’re embarassed. It hurts and it should. For us to be a better team, it really needs to hurt.”

Guard Rashad McCants’ 19 points led seven North Carolina players in double figures, the Tar Heels’ largest such contingent in 16 years. Forward Travis Garrison and guard Chris McCray topped Maryland with 13 each as the starters returned after being benched for four minutes.

Now Maryland (9-3, 1-1 ACC) must visit No.4 Wake Forest (12-1, 1-0) on Tuesday. The Terps will have another challenge with the Demon Deacons’ menacing frontcourt, quick guards and imposing venue.

“You have to say this is [just] one game,” Williams said. “If this becomes a pattern, then it’s obviously a problem. Right now, you don’t have time to do a lot of things. We have to prepare for Wake.”

Still, it was a stinging setback for a veteran team expected to improve over last year’s 7-9 conference mark. Williams was so frustrated over the poor second-half start that he benched the entire lineup after six minutes and never again played more than two starters concurrently.

“Nobody was playing well,” Williams said, “so I was just trying to find guys that could. … It’s one thing if the starters played well at the start of the second half, but they didn’t do that, so we just needed to get fired up. The game was really over …”

Said guard Chris McCray: “We deserved it. We weren’t playing hard. You can’t get mad at things like that, because we weren’t getting the job done.”

North Carolina (13-1, 2-0) dissected Maryland’s defense, surpassing 100 points with 4:29 remaining and sending some fans up the steps to collect on their promotional chicken coupons. Most stayed, though, because the Tar Heels continued dunking over the disorganized Terps.

“They were clicking,” Maryland guard John Gilchrist acknowledged.

The Tar Heels hit 10 3-pointers and also cleaned up under the basket with a 49-28 rebounding edge. Terps forward Ekene Ibekwe fouled out with 8:35 remaining after collecting just three points and two rebounds. Tar Heels center Sean May’s 50-pound advantage wore Ibekwe down.

“Coach [Roy Williams] said, ‘Keep running — eventually they’ll break,’” May said. “It just seemed like they got tired.”

Maryland rallied from an 8-3 deficit to lead 20-19 on guard D.J. Strawberry’s slam with 12:42 remaining in the half. A mixture of layups and short jumpers boosted the margin to 27-22 as Roy Williams cracked a clipboard with his hand in frustration during a Tar Heels timeout.

North Carolina regained momentum after Maryland forward James Gist injured his right ankle with 8:37 remaining. After producing only one field goal over five minutes, North Carolina’s offense continued to sputter before finally igniting. With the score 32-32, the Tar Heels reeled off 15 straight points on two 3-pointers, two dunks, three free throws and just one short jumper.

The Terps managed two free throws in the final minute but entered halftime trailing 47-34 after not scoring from the field over the final 5:36.

North Carolina sealed the game in the opening four minutes following intermission. The Tar Heels’ first five baskets were worth three points apiece, including four with an ensuing free throw. The 62-41 margin was a backbreaker.

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