Maryland Upsets No. 3 Seed Wake Forest, 87-86
March 13, 2004
By JENNA FRYER
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) - Maryland has enough quality wins to make it into the NCAA tournament. The Terrapins would prefer to get there with their first Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title in 20 years.
The sixth-seeded Terps advanced to the ACC semifinals Friday night when John Gilchrist made one of two free throws with 3.7 seconds to lift them to an 87-86 victory over No. 15 Wake Forest.
It was the third consecutive win for Maryland (17-11) and helped the Terps avoid losing all three meetings with Wake Forest (19-9) this season.
"We just kept telling ourselves we can't lose to a team this many times in a row, we can't get swept," Gilchrist said. "We wanted to prove to ourselves we could beat a team of their caliber."
But with marquee wins over North Carolina, North Carolina State, at Florida and against Wisconsin, Maryland figured it had already locked up its 11th consecutive berth to the NCAA tournament. Still, an ACC tournament title would be nice- especially on the 20th anniversary of its last one, when Len Bias and coach Lefty Driesell won it.
Maryland faces North Carolina State in Saturday's semifinal - a rematch of the Terps' 70-69 victory on March 3.
Win or lose, Maryland coach Gary Williams figures its the perfect tuneup for the NCAA tournament.
"We've proved in the last week or so that we have improved," Williams said. "This is the perfect stage for us to continue it because I've always believed the atmosphere of the ACC tournament is much better than the first round of the NCAA tournament."
Gilchrist seized his chance with the game tied at 86 with 12.9 to go.
He took the inbound pass and was deliberate in looking for his shot. But he was fouled by Taron Downey as he drove toward the basket.
He made his first free throw, Wake Forest called timeout, and Gilchrist purposely missed the second shot. The Demon Deacons scrambled for the rebound before Downey lofted up a last-second shot that didn't come close.
"I just wanted to hit the rim and make it rattle around and force them to use some time up chasing after the ball," Gilchrist said. "It worked pretty good."
The loss probably won't keep Wake Forest out of the NCAA tournament, even though the Deacons are reeling from three straight losses.
"It really isn't a good sign," said guard Justin Gray. "But somehow, someway, we've got to get our confidence back."
The game was tight from start to finish - it was tied nine times - and the Terps appeared to take control late in the second half. But the Deacons rallied behind freshman Chris Paul, who tied his career high with 30 points.
Trailing 86-81, Paul hit a 3-pointer with 42 seconds to play to make it a one possession game. Maryland turned the ball over when Nik Caner-Medley fell out of bounds after catching the inbound pass and, after a timeout, Paul was fouled by Jamar Smith.
Paul dropped to the floor with what looked like a leg cramp, but after stretching for a second, sank both free throws to tie the game at 86 with 20 seconds to play.
That set up the final series for Gilchrist, who finished with 16 points and was 4-for-4 from 3-point range.
Travis Garrison also had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Maryland. Chris McCray and Caner-Medley added 13 each.
Jamaal Levy had 18 points for Wake Forest, and Gray was 5-of-14 from the field and finished with 14 points.