November 13, 2007

Terps Survive Pirates Scare, 70-64

Greivis Vasquez struggled with his shot, committed eight turnovers, and maybe most surprisingly, played flat in the words of his coach. But for all of his struggles, Vasquez delivered when Maryland needed him most.

The mercurial sophomore scored seven consecutive points in the game's final 1:20, allowing Maryland to escape a relentless Hampton team, 70-64, in the finals of the College Park Regional of the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic at the Comcast Center.

With the victory, the Terps (2-0) advance to the tournament's semifinals next Monday in Kansas City where a date with No. 2 UCLA likely awaits. But following the game, the Terps locker room was anything but jubilant.

Maryland committed 22 turnovers and made just 10 of 20 second half free throws, including six misses by Bambale Osby, and nearly self-destructed in the game's closing minutes. After Donte Harrison scored on a fast break dunk to give Hampton (1-1) its only lead at 63-62 with 1:34 remaining, the Terps faced the real prospect of joining Kentucky and USC as early season upset victims.

But Vasquez calmly nailed a straight-away three-pointer 14 seconds later, giving Maryland a 65-63 lead it didn't relinquish. It was the Terps first bucket since a Vasquez jumper at the 8:28 mark. During the 7:08 between field goals, the Terps compounded their problems with four turnovers and eight missed free throws.

After making the three-pointer, Vasquez made four free throws to push Maryland's lead to 70-63 and his point total to 21, but aside from the win, the Terps seemed to take little from their effort. Vasquez, who was named the region MVP, called his play and his shot selection horrible.

"I think you see the strength of Greivis after eight turnovers to make that shot," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "A lot of guys couldn't do that. I mean it was an unbelievable shot ... but he can play much better ... we just need him to be a solid player because he is really good when he is a solid player."

"What's killing me right now is I'm trying to make a big play when it's not there," said Vasquez, who was 6 of 15 from the floor.

After playing for the Venezuelan national team over the summer, Williams feels Vasquez may be trying to do too much.

"I just want him to be himself," the coach said. "I think sometimes now after the summer playing against Kobe and all that stuff, he tends to try to play up here. He just has to play like Greivis Vasquez. He's a college basketball player, that's what he is right now. Just enjoy it and be that guy, (he shouldn't) put any extra added pressure on himself."

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