March 9, 2006
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – Nik Caner-Medley had 20 points and Mike Jones added 19 to help Maryland improve its postseason chances with an easy 82-64 victory over Georgia Tech on Thursday in the opening round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
D.J. Strawberry finished with 15 points and seven assists for the sixth-seeded Terrapins (19-11), who had their run of 12 straight trips to the NCAA tournament snapped last season. Their hopes ended then with an embarrassing loss to Clemson on the first day of the conference tournament, but there was little chance of that happening in this one.
Maryland will play No. 11 Boston College in a quarterfinal game Friday.
Maryland dominated from the start in large part to its stingy defense – or perhaps just some poor shooting from the other team. The Yellow Jackets missed 14 of their first 18 shots and 16 of their first 26 to fall behind by double figures early, and the ugly numbers included four air balls.
After Zam Frederick’s jumper tied it at 7, the Terrapins took off on a 16-2 run, highlighted by seven consecutive points from Caner-Medley. He swished a 3-pointer, got in the lane for another basket and curled around a screen to score again to make it 14-9.
It quickly got worse for Georgia Tech. D.J. Strawberry converted a three-point play, Ekene Ibekwe made a shot from right outside the lane and Jones dunked off an assist from Strawberry for a 12-point lead. Ibekwe posted up to complete the dominating spurt, and the Yellow Jackets never fully recovered.
Will Bowers put back a miss by Caner-Medley to increase the margin to 20 for the first time late in the first half. Georgia Tech made four of its final six shots in the opening 20 minutes to get within 15, but another drought following the break ruined any thoughts of a comeback.
Ibekwe got the second half started with a dunk off a nifty lob pass from Strawberry, and before long, the Terrapins had 10 unanswered points. It was 52-27 at that point, and what was left of the sellout crowd began filing toward the exits.
Yet the Yellow Jackets managed to make it a bit interesting in the final minutes, when Morrow’s 3 brought them to 72-56. Dickey then added two free throws to make it a 14-point game, but Maryland did enough down the stretch to hold on.
Still, coach Gary Williams was so flustered with his team that he sent in little-used Dave Neal for the final two minutes. In only his 13th game of the season, the burly 6-foot-7 forward responded with his first block, and the Terrapins finished it off at the free throw line.