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February 28, 2007

Terrapins take down Duke

Maryland and Duke each entered Wednesday night's game toting impressive win streaks, but it was the Terrapins who left the floor with their streak in tact as the Blue Devils fell 85-77 in their final home game of the year.

Duke had no defensive answer for Maryland in any aspect of the game, as the Terrapins sliced through the Blue Devils' man-to-man defense in the halfcourt and successfully got a number of easy layups in transition.

The effort was keyed by Maryland's strong trio of guards. Seniors D.J. Strawberry and Mike Jones, along with freshman Greivis Vasquez, combined for 55 points, 18 rebounds, and 17 assists to put a halt to Duke's four game winning streak.

The game started off at a riveting pace, as each team broke from the starting blocks hot from the field.

Maryland started out with a 7-2 lead but the Blue Devils seemingly took early control when they reeled off a 16-5 run to go up 18-12, but ultimately Duke just couldn't keep up with the Terrapins' lethally efficient offensive outing.

Gary Williams' team won its sixth straight game by shooting 52.9 percent from the floor and racking up 25 assists on 33 made field goals, and even a late push by the Blue Devils didn't deter the Terrapins.

Trailing 56-44 at the 13:11 mark of the second half, Duke mustered enough energy to rip off a 20-8 run and tied the game when Jon Scheyer nailed a three in transition to even the game at 64-64.

But just when the Blue Devils knotted the score, Strawberry and Vasquez counter punched.

Vasquez hit a tough one handed floater in the lane to put Maryland back up 66-64, and Strawberry backed him by hitting a three pointer and mid-range jumper on consecutive possessions to stretch the lead back to seven at 71-64.

Duke closed to within three one more time, but again the Terrapins went on an 8-0 spurt to put the game away. The eight points in that final run came on a layup, a dunk, and four free throws as the Blue Devils failed to sustain anything positive defensively.

That's what most irked Mike Krzyzewski, who couldn't believe his team's defensive effort, particularly its failure to stop Strawberry from getting easy baskets on the break.

"Strawberry [scores in transition] and we know it," Coach K said after the loss. "You have to have a guy back. We got that lead to start the ballgame and we're playing with a lot of energy, and then he got two straight layups just because we forgot that he leaks out. To me, I don't know how you forget that. I'm disappointed in our defense."

"I recognize [Maryland] is really good but we should have played them better on the defensive end. We gave them too many layups and had breakdowns defensively that should have never happened with the preparation we had."

Ekene Ibekwe was a tough load for Duke to handle as well. The senior big man scored 17 points and repeatedly found himself open at the rim for slams.

Duke placed five players into double figures, including freshman Gerald Henderson who stepped up big with 15 points, but the Blue Devils couldn't outscore Maryland in an up and down game.

Greg Paulus led the team and continued his hot shooting by scoring 20 points on 8-15 shooting from the floor, but even 62 combined points from Paulus, Scheyer, Henderson, and DeMarcus Nelson wasn't enough.

Jones led all scorers with 25 points for Maryland, and he buried 4-5 from behind the three point arc, with three of those makes coming in the first half when the Terrapins built a 44-38 halftime lead.

The loss dropped Duke to 8-7 in the ACC and guarantees the Blue Devils will play a Thursday first round game in the ACC Tournament next week.


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