- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 1, 2009

The fist pump was exaggerated. The chants from the crowd were supportive and frequent. The starting lineup was a little different.

So was the much-desired result.

The end of a tumultuous week finally arrived in College Park on Saturday night, with Maryland coach Gary Williams presiding over a direly needed 73-68 defeat of Miami.

A single victory, of course, is hardly a cure-all for what ails the Terrapins (14-7, 3-4 ACC). Yet a single night of substantial support from the season’s most raucous crowd at Comcast Center deflected some attention away from a week filled with not-so-friendly intradepartment fire.

Landon Milbourne scored 17 points and an energized Greivis Vasquez led a balanced effort with a near-triple double (11 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists) as Maryland ended a rocky month with a victory against the Hurricanes (14-7, 3-5).

“Every game we play, we obviously want to win it — for Gary, for us, for Maryland — just because winning is always a great feeling,” forward Dave Neal said. “It’s always good to see Gary happy. When we’re winning, Gary’s happy. He’s not yelling as much. It’s good to win, because we want to win for Gary, but there’s other reasons for what motivates us, too.”

The win itself was a relief for a team that had lost five of seven and watched Williams engage in a nasty back-and-forth between him and administration officials. Williams vowed to remain mum on issues external to his team Friday, though it was no doubt a pleasant sign for campus president C.D. Mote Jr. to greet him courtside before the game.

With Williams promising to speak only about basketball matters, the Terps provided some solid material — even winning after building a double-digit lead in the second half rather than squandering it. Maryland had done so against Morgan State, Boston College and, most notably, in ceding a 17-point lead to the Hurricanes earlier in the month.

Perhaps that only allowed Maryland to fully savor a victory over a team that had taken six of seven from it in recent years.

“It’s like a monkey off the back,” guard Adrian Bowie said. “It was a big win. Especially after we came down to Miami and lost a heartbreaking loss. It was really important and is going to help us out a lot. We had a big lead in this game, too, and to finally finish it out feels good.”

The Terps unfurled a new look, shifting freshman Sean Mosley into the starting five over Eric Hayes. The junior came off the bench for the first time after shooting just 29.5 percent the previous seven games.

Mosley provided some crucial plays, including an authoritative dunk off Vasquez’s sidearm dart in transition to make it 43-33. It was Maryland’s first double-digit lead of the night, and the margin hovered in that vicinity for several minutes.

Much of it was because of the court vision and feistiness of Vasquez, who seemed at his most engaged in several games. But the Terps couldn’t fully dispatch Miami, and the Hurricanes eventually closed within five.

It looked like a familiar refrain, but rather than remaining tentative, Bowie and the Terps continued to attack the basket.

Equally important, the Terps did not wilt in the face of the perimeter prowess of Jack McClinton (18 points). Maryland employed a box-and-one late in the second half, with Bowie locking down the Hurricanes star and limiting him to a meaningless layup in the final seven minutes.

It was a Bowie three-point play after slashing to the basket against a shrinking shot clock that pushed the lead back into double digits at 68-57.

The cheering only grew louder and soon evolved into a “We love Gary” chant, an emotional denouement for one of the most trying weeks of Williams’ 20-year tenure in College Park.

“I just told them I was going to coach like I always coached,” Williams said. “I’ve done this too long [to do anything different]. I made them promise they would practice the same way. We were both going to do what we could do. I was going to coach the game, and they were going to practice hard to get ready for the game.

“And we were both able to do that, and that’s why we won the game.”


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