February 20, 2010
Maryland had gone 2,528 days and 226 games without winning on a buzzer-beating shot entering play on Saturday.
Somehow, someway, the Terps snapped that streak with two in mere minutes to beat shell-shocked Georgia Tech.
When Greivis Vasquez's would-be mid-court bank shot got wiped out because assistant coach Keith Booth called timeout to set up a play with 1.5 seconds to go, you could almost hear DC sports fans firing up their laptops to pillarize the decision. Instead junior guard Cliff Tucker granted Booth a reprieve, curling around a pick and burying a catch-and-shoot left-wing 3-pointer at the buzzer to rally Maryland to a 76-74 victory.
"You need some breaks at times during the year," Maryland coach Gary Williams told reporters after the game. "We got one there. We played well enough to be in a position to get that break."
Only a head coach would typically have the authority to call timeout in such a crucial late-game situation, so you know Booth had to be the most relieved man in the arena after Tucker's game-winner. The last Maryland player to win a game with a buzzer beater was guard Drew Nicholas, whose fallaway 3-pointer as time expired gave the Terrapins a win over UNC Wilmington in the first round of the 2003 NCAA tournament.
If Nicholas' shot is one of the more memorable in school history, Tucker's probably won't be far behind. It moved Maryland (19-7, 9-3) to within a game of first-place Duke in the ACC standings and allowed the Terrapins to pad their NCAA tournament resume with another much-needed victory over a top-50 RPI opponent.
Tucker's heroics spoiled a banner day for heralded Georgia Tech freshman Derrick Favors, who had 21 points and 18 rebounds to lead the Yellow Jackets. Favors appeared to give Georgia Tech the win with three seconds left when he put back an Iman Shumpert miss for a 74-73 Yellow Jackets lead.
"We probably played our best game of the season," Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt told reporters after the game. "What are you going to say? The kid made a miraculous shot."