Terps Prevail Over N.C. State, 71-60
The Terps were well aware of how important tonight's game was in terms of holding onto their NCAA tournament hopes, and it appeared from the outset that the chips were stacked against them. N.C. State recently had switched to a taller lineup that included three players who were 6-foot-9. Add to that Maryland's poor track record on the road this season.
But just as they have at several points this season, the Terps proved their resiliance and came away with a much-needed victory. But don't let the final score fool you. The game was tightly contested throughout and many times it appeared the Wolfpack were on the verge of claiming momentum.
"I told them at halftime, if we lose this game our season’s pretty much over," senior forward Dave Neal said. "And I think they took that into consideration, and we came out in that second half and played hard the last 20 minutes. Now our season’s still going."
1) Greivis Vasquez. Especially in the first half, Vasquez did a masterful job of driving into the lane and taking whatever the N.C. State defense gave him. At times, he would shoot a floater that often went in. At other times, he would dish the ball out to an open teammate along the perimeter. His decision-making might have been better tonight than at any other point this season. He finished with 33 points and five assists.
2) Forcing turnovers. Part of this had to do with N.C. State's horrific ball-handling and decision-making. But part of this also had to do with Maryland's intense ball pressure. The Wolfpack committed 16 turnovers, and those errors oftentimes killed whatever momentum N.C. State was in the process of building. Every Terp except for Braxton Dupree (who played just three minutes) recorded at least one steal.
3) Open looks. N.C. State was just begging for the Terps to make open shots. And Maryland took the Wolfpack up on the offer. With N.C. State clogging the lane, the Terps simply hung out along the perimeter and were waited for dish-outs from Vasquez or whoever else drove into the lane. Maryland shot 48.2 percent from the field and 47.6 percent from three-point range.
1) Interior defense. With the makeup of this season's team, facing more physically imposing lineups was going to be a given. But that doesn't make it any less of a concern. N.C. State's frontline was successful tonight in forcing its way toward the basket and gaining short-range shots. Tracy Smith was the biggest pain in the Terps' collective neck. He finished with 19 points and nine rebounds. Maryland switched to a 3-2 zone midway through the first half and again in the second half. For a while, it was effective, but the Wolfpack eventually found a way back inside for close-up baskets.
2) Rebounding. In many respects, this goes hand-in-hand with the above point, but Gary Williams has pointed out in recent weeks his team's propensity to allow second-chance scoring opportunities. The problem arose again tonight. N.C. State outrebounded Maryland, 32-24, which allowed the Wolfpack do-overs they oftentimes did not deserve. Fortunately for the Terps, N.C. State had such a hard time controlling the ball that it frequently squandered its extra opportunities.
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