Big Shots Loosen Team's Collar
As he prepared to speak to his team during the media timeout with 3:38 remaining in the first half, Gary Williams yanked on his collar to loosen his tie just a tad, a literal conclusion to the figurative act his players already had accomplished. Then Williams clenched his left fist and pumped it a few times as his players gathered around him.
At one point in the first half the Terrapins trailed by 13 points. By that point, after Cliff Tucker had connected from beyond the arc with 4:12 left on the clock, N.C. State's lead was down to a single point.
The 15-4 run Maryland used to close the first half began with a three-pointer from Eric Hayes with 6:34 to go to close the Wolfpack's lead to eight. He finished the first half with nine points, all off of three-point attempts.
"Sometimes that’s all it takes," Williams said. "You make one or two shots, and everybody else relaxes. It’s not just you making the shot; it’s a team thing. When Eric hit those shots, I think we all relaxed a little bit."
If the Terps were a little tense to start the game, it was understandable. Nevermind that it had been a few years since Maryland had won a game in the ACC tournament, the players took the court knowing that of all the "must-win" games they had played this season, last night's was the first one they truly could not have afforded to lose.
Heading into the game, it was commonly thought that Maryland had to win at least two games in the ACC tournament in order to put themselves in good position to gain a NCAA tournament berth. A second win, obviously, would not be possible without first accomplishing the first.
"You’re definitely nervous because you know if you lose you’re pretty much done," Hayes said. "We did a great job of playing with those nerves and turning them into a positive. We came out and played one of our better games in the past couple of weeks. We came out and got the win and that’s all that really mattered."
Tonight, the Terps will take on Wake Forest, who barely hung on to beat Maryland at College Park 10 days ago. Based on what you all saw from the Terps last night, how do you think the rematch against the Demon Deacons will go?
March 13, 2009; 7:10 AM ET
Categories: Men's basketball
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