- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 19, 2008

MINNEAPOLIS — Thank goodness for James Gist.

The Maryland men’s basketball team, apparently suffering a hangover from last week’s first-round ACC tournament loss to Boston College, trailed for most of the first half last night before rallying for a 68-58 victory over host Minnesota in the NIT.

The Terrapins led by just one point at the break before senior Gist slammed down a pair of monstrous alley-oop dunks in the first two minutes of the second half to point them toward victory and a second-round matchup with Syracuse tomorrow night at the Carrier Dome.

With Gist and guard Greivis Vasquez leading the way, Maryland (19-14) pulled out to an 11-point advantage it never lost before a hostile crowd estimated at 6,000.

Vasquez led Maryland with 16 points.

Maryland went 7:52 at one point in the first half without a field goal, while Minnesota hit seven of its first 10 shots in the paint and added four 3-pointers to build a six-point lead. Yet the Golden Gophers (20-14) ultimately were unable to repeat their upset of third-seeded Indiana in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals.

Maryland muscled its way toward victory by wearing down the Gophers inside and maintaining control of the glass. The Terps had lost five of their previous six, including late-game collapses against Virginia Tech, Clemson and BC. The closest Minnesota came after the early moments of the second half was five points.

Gist’s 3-pointer with 2:40 remaining put the Terps up nine and effectively put the game out of reach. He finished with 11 points for the night.

Forward Damian Johnson led Minnesota with 14 points. Bryce Hoffarber, Al Nolen and Jamal Abu-Shamala added 11 each.

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