Maryland 82, Davidson 70
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP)—When Davidson’s Stephen Curry fouled out, no one was as relieved as D.J. Strawberry. He finally got a break and knew what it all meant: Maryland was on its way to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Helped by Strawberry’s efficient 12-point, five-assist and eight-rebound performance, the Terrapins overcame the Wildcats in an 82-70 win Thursday in their first NCAA tournament appearance in three years.
“He was tiring me out just as much as I was tiring him out,” Strawberry said of the freshman guard.
Curry scored 30 points but ran out of gas at the end, missing five of his final six attempts before fouling out with 21 seconds remaining. The Wildcats had no one else to pick up the slack, managing just one field goal—Curry’s transition layup—in the final 5:51.
“I don’t think it was anything about fatigue,” Curry said. “It’s just shots weren’t falling and had loose balls go the other way, just a couple of bad bounces here and there.”
That was all Maryland needed in a game that featured 14 lead changes and the Terrapins—the Midwest Regional’s fourth seed—rallying from an eight-point second-half deficit.
Mike Jones led Maryland (25-8) with 17 points, and reserve forward Bambale Osby added 11, playing a key role in sparking an 11-4 run that put the Terps ahead 69-63 with 7:27 remaining.
But much of the game revolved around Curry and Strawberry, two players who happen to be the sons of famous athletes. Curry’s father is Dell Curry, the former NBA 3-point shooting expert, while Strawberry is the son of former baseball slugger Darryl.
Curry was everywhere on the court, from hitting 3-point shots from well behind the arc, to sneaking inside to convert reverse layups.
“He’s for real,” Maryland coach Gary Williams said of Curry. “I told him after the game, `You could play anywhere.”’
Davidson (29-5) had a 13-game win streak snapped and lost for only the second time in 27 games. The Wildcats also lost their seventh straight first-round game, their last tournament victory coming in 1969 when they beat St. John’s 79-69 in the East semifinals.
The momentum turned in the opening minutes of the second half, and after Davidson opened a 52-44 lead when Curry set up Max Paulhus Gosselin for a transition layup.
The Wildcats, however, squandered a chance to increase their lead, failing to score despite forcing turnovers on each of Maryland’s next three possessions.
The Terps responded with an 8-0 run of their own and went ahead for good courtesy of Osby, who was a force in the middle filling in after starter Ekene Ibekwe ran into foul trouble. Osby’s putback with 9:53 remaining gave Maryland a 60-59 lead, and he followed that by scoring on a baseline drive. Then, after blocking Jason Richards’ shot, Osby set up James Gist for an easy layup at the other end.
The Terrapins advanced to the second round for the 20th time, and overcame questions of how prepared they were after losing to Miami in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
“My message to them was to remind them why we came here. We came here to win,” Williams said, recalling what he told his team when it was down by eight. “I’m proud of the toughness of these guys.”
Maryland will face No. 5 seed Butler, which defeated Old Dominion 57-46, in the second round on Saturday, with the winner advancing to St. Louis.
And that puts Strawberry one step closer to having his father watch him play. Darryl Strawberry is currently working in an outreach program in Missouri.
The good news for the Wildcats, the Southern Conference champion, is they will have all of their starters back next season.
“We went toe-to-toe with arguably one of the better teams in the ACC,” Wildcats coach Bob McKillop said. “For us to take this loss as anything more of how good we have developed and how much we can still grow, I think our guys clearly understand that there’s some shortcomings we can work on and I know they will.”