Maryland defense enables lead surge
North Carolina drew to within three points of the lead twice early in the second half Sunday, but the Tar Heels never got any close to overtaking Maryland. For as smooth as most of the game went for the Terrapins, Coach Gary Williams acknowledged there were at least a few moments of amplified anxiety.
"There was a point there where I was really concerned, early in the second half, I don’t know the exact time, but they were playing pretty well," Williams said. North Carolina guard Marcus "Ginyard came out and made a big shot for them, gave them some confidence early in the half. We weren’t moving really well. We had to dig deep to get it going again, and it came from the defense."
Indeed it did. Maryland tallied six of its nine steals and four of its six blocks in the second half against the Tar Heels. The Terrapins held North Carolina to 37.7 percent shooting from the field and 31.3 percent shooting from three-point range.
In fact, Maryland has held each of its last six opponents under 40 percent from the field. The Terrapins rank No. 1 in the ACC in field goal percentage defense (38.7 percent allowed) in conference games.
Given the solid defense Maryland consistently has played in conference games this season, the Terrapins' start to the second half was surprising. For the first time in a while, it seemed as though Maryland lost its focus temporarily on the defensive end.
But the Terrapins solved that issue in a hurry. During a 10-0 run that began with just less than 13 minutes remaining and all but sealed the win, Maryland tallied three steals in 84 seconds.
"We were giving them pretty easy shots," senior guard Eric Hayes said. "They were getting to the basket and we wanted to keep them in front of us and make them make jump shots, so we just buckled down on defense and once we started playing really well on defense we started getting breakouts and easy buckets in transition."
By the end of that particular run, the Terrapins lead had surged from four points to 14. From that point forward, Maryland's lead never dipped below 12 points.
February 8, 2010; 10:10 AM ET
Categories: Men's basketball
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