The Maryland Terrapins (18-11, 7-8 ACC) almost pulled off a pivotal ACC upset over the No. 10 Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
Maryland fell short of their goal tonight, and suffered another serious blow to their NCAA tournament hopes, losing 65-63 in front of an enthusiastic College Park crowd.
One does not have to look far, to find out how the Demons Deacons defeated the feisty Terps.
Wake Forest (23-5, 10-5 ACC) killed Maryland on the boards tonight. Maryland was out-rebounded 50-32, and nearly every entry pass inside the painted area was contested by the Demon Deacon big men.
Al-Farouq Aminu had 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting and a career-high 14 rebounds. Jeff Teague scored 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting to lead the Demons Deacons to a huge road win.
March Madness is just around the corner and this game was a true testament to how deep the talent runs in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
With this victory Wake Forest moves into sole possession of third place in the ACC. The Demon Deacons have won six of their last eight games, since dropping three of four games to start the new year. They close out their regular season at home versus Clemson on Sunday.
For the Maryland Terrapins, this loss puts them on the verge of missing the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in five years. I fully expect Gary Williams to be back on the hot seat for his lack of recruiting prowess come tomorrow morning. Most coaches get the blame when their teams fail to get winning results, and the Terrapins have had it rough since their national championship run in 2002.
There is no Lonny Baxter or Chris Wilcox to go to inside on this year’s team. I would say the last legitimate big man Maryland recruited was Ryan Randle. He was limited in his offensive moves to the basket and failed to average ten points for his career at Maryland.
Tahj Holden was a perimeter-shooting big man, but was undersized to go up against the opposing team’s massive post players.
The offensive game plan is simple against the Terps: Feed the ball to the tall guy and shoot over the short guy.
Maryland did bring energy to the floor, and used a second-half scoring spurt from senior Dave Neal to give them renewed spirit. Neal scored a career-high 19 points, including hitting three three-pointers to give Maryland a 54-48 lead to answer Wake Forest’s 16-5 run to open the second half.
Every time Maryland became aggressive, and challenged Wake Forest’s forwards, they would come up with a huge block. Wake Forest led the Terrapins in blocked shots 10-3.
Junior Greivis Vasquez followed up his 30-point performance against North Carolina State with an uneven performance. He lost his shooting touch at halftime, and finished the game making only 7-of-24 of his field goal attempts. He scored 16 points, which was right about his season average.
No other Terrapin besides Neal or Vasquez scored in double figures.
The Demon Deacons came into the game with an ACC-best 49.8 percent shooting percentage. Maryland held them to 39.7 percent for the game. The Terrapins effectively clogged the lanes in the first half, and seized momentum when Dave Neal sank a three-pointer to with seconds left on the clock. They grabbed a 32-25 lead at the break.
Then Wake Forest took offense to the way Maryland was able to control the tempo of the game.
Maryland was complacent in the second half and they stopped moving without the basketball. They let the shot clock go under ten seconds, which led to forced shots.
Still, it took a late 6-0 run from Wake Forest to finally escape College Park with a well-deserved win.
Maryland’s last gasp for a trip to the big dance will take place against Virginia in Charlottesville on Saturday.
Gary Williams turned 64 today, and is one game away from finishing his 19th year as Maryland’s head coach.
Wake Forest Center Chris McFarland played only eight minutes due to an ankle injury suffered in the first half.