Terps Capture ACC Title Over Duke, 95-87, In OvertimeThriller
March 14, 2004
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) - The net dangled from the rim by just one loop, with Gary Williams the only one left to take a snip.
As the crowd chanted "Gary! Gary! Gary!" the manic coach climbed the ladder and cut down the net on Maryland's first Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title in 20 years.
So many terrific Maryland teams never won the tournament, so leave it to the unlikeliest bunch of Terrapins to finally end the drought Sunday by beating No. 5 Duke 95-87 in overtime - ending the top-seeded Blue Devils' run at five straight championships.
It was the first ACC tournament title for the sixth-seeded Terrapins (19-11) since 1984, when Len Bias and coach Lefty Driesell beat Duke. Maryland had been to just one final since then, in 2000 when the Blue Devils were in the early stages of their tournament dominance.
"We want the wins, we want to win this championship for Maryland," said Williams, who ranked the victory alongside the Terps' 2002 national championship. "This kind of makes up for a lot of things that happened to us in the ACC tournament."
Duke (27-5) came into the tournament looking for its record sixth consecutive title and 15th overall.
Instead, the Blue Devils took their first ACC postseason loss since 1998 - snapping a streak of 17 straight wins.
The magnitude of snapping Duke's streak wasn't lost on Williams.
"I was thinking right after the game, to win five straight ACC tournament championships is incredible," Williams said. "I don't think you'll ever see that again."
Failing to score its sixth consecutive tournament title wasn't Duke's only problem: The loss also might have cost the Blue Devils a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
But coach Mike Krzyzewski refused to lobby for what he believed his team had still earned. Instead, he focused on what had slipped away after Duke blew a late 12-point lead against the Terps.
"Our program gives everything it can to this championship," he said. "We were proud to be the champions for the last five years and we would have been proud to be the sixth."
Maryland had tournament MVP John Gilchrist to thank for ending Duke's run.
The sophomore guard put together a terrific three-game stretch to help the Terps beat the Nos. 3, 2 and 1 seeds.
Gilchrist made the game-winning free throw in a quarterfinal win over No. 15 Wake Forest, he scored a career-high 30 points in a semifinal win over North Carolina State and capped it with 26 points against Duke on 10-of-20 shooting.
His driving layup with 20 seconds to play in regulation drew the fifth foul on Duke's Shelden Williams - his main competition for tournament MVP - and the ensuing free throw tied the game at 77 and ensured overtime.
"I've been fortunate to be on winning teams my whole life and that's given me a feeling of what teams need to win from the top guy to the bottom guy," he said. "I just know what you have to do to win these kind of games."
Maryland, which led by as many as 11 points in the first half and trailed by 12 with 4:58 to play in the second, closed out regulation with a 15-3 run to force overtime. The comeback wasn't as thrilling as the day before, when the Terps overcame a 19-point halftime deficit to beat N.C. State, but it didn't surprise Krzyzewski.
"My hat is off to Gary and his program," Krzyzewski said. "He's a fighter and his teams won't quit. They played like their coach, and as a result, they were all rewarded."
Everything that could have gone wrong for Duke in the first half did: Chris Duhon was briefly injured diving after a loose ball, leaving the court for about 5 minutes for what appeared to be lower back pain.
Williams was limited to 8 minutes because of foul trouble and J.J. Redick offered nothing offensively, shooting 1-for-8 for the half.
Still, the Blue Devils trailed just 38-36 at halftime.
Then Williams opened the second half as if he had no fouls - let alone three - with a thunderous dunk to tie the game at 38. Ewing then hit a 3 to give Duke its first lead of the game, followed by another basket by Williams and a 3-pointer by Luol Deng to put the Blue Devils up 46-42.
Redick eventually began making some shots, draining a long 3 with 5:18 to play that made it 72-62. As he sprinted down the court in celebration, Williams threw his arms up in disgust and called a timeout.
It didn't help: Duhon scored right out of the pause on a fast-break layup and Williams quickly called another timeout.
Then it started to click for Maryland, which held Duke without a basket for the rest of regulation and deep into overtime.
"We didn't execute, we didn't take care of the ball and we didn't make our free throws," Redick said. "That had a lot to do with the way Maryland was playing. They were playing as hard as anyone we've played."