Final Four Bid Thwarted By Terps

March 24, 2001

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - Six weeks after Maryland's season seemed to be comingapart, the Terrapins are headed to their first Final Four.

Lonny Baxter scored 24 points and Juan Dixon added 17 as the Terps usedtheir superior quickness and depth to overcome Stanford's inside game and upsetthe top-seeded Cardinal 87-73 on Saturday for the West Regional championship.

It will also be the first Final Four for Gary Williams in his 23rd year as amajor college coach, the last 12 with Maryland.

Williams didn't allow himself to celebrate on the sideline until DrewNicholas dribbled out the final seconds before heaving the ball high into theair.

The third-seeded Terps, 10-1 since losing at home to lowly Florida State onFeb. 14 for their fifth loss in six games, face the East Regional champion inthe NCAA tournament semifinals next Saturday.

Top-ranked Duke and Southern California played for the East Regional titlelater Saturday in Philadelphia.

Maryland's slump began Jan. 27 when it blew a 10-point lead over Duke in thefinal 54 seconds of regulation and lost in overtime. By the time it ended, theTerps were 15-9 and anything but a sure bet for the NCAA tournament.

Now, they're going to Minneapolis.

Maryland made 32 of 55 shots (58.2 percent) while Stanford, which shot 57percent in its three previous tournament games, was just 23-of-56 (41.1percent).

Reserve Tahj Holden added 14 points, Steve Blake had 13 points and sevenassists, and Terence Morris had 11 points and 10 rebounds for Maryland, whosesubstitutes outscored their Stanford counterparts 22-8.

Ryan Mendez led Stanford with 18 points. Casey Jacobsen added 14 points andnine rebounds, Michael McDonald had 12 points and seven assists, and JasonCollins scored 12 for the Cardinal.

After being thoroughly outplayed in the opening 20 minutes, which ended withMaryland ahead 41-31, the Cardinal scored the first seven points of the secondhalf to draw within three points.

But that was as close as they would get. A three-point play by Baxter and3-pointers by Dixon and Blake in a 68-second span put Maryland ahead by 12.

Shortly thereafter, a 3-pointer by Holden and a jumper by Dixon gave theTerps (25-10) a 15-point lead with 14 1/2 minutes left.

Stanford (31-3) got within nine points before Morris made a follow shot andBaxter a driving left-handed layup, putting Maryland ahead 69-56 with 6:24 toplay. The Cardinal were unable to pose a serious threat after that.

Morris, who shot 1-for-11 in Maryland's 76-66 victory over Georgetown in theregional semifinals, made a 3-point basket to open the scoring before Jacobsenhit from long range - his school-record 82nd 3-pointer of the season.

The Cardinal led 24-21 when Baxter went to work inside, scoring threebaskets to spark a 13-4 run, putting the Terps ahead for good. Morris addedfour points during the spurt.

It was 34-30 when reserve Nicholas scored five straight points after a pairof steals by Dixon to give the Terps a 39-30 lead.

A 3-pointer by Holden - another substitute - with four seconds left in thehalf gave Maryland its 10-point halftime lead. Holden, 9-of-21 from 3-pointrange in Maryland's previous 34 games, was 3-of-4 in this game.

The Terps made 18-of-32 shots (56.2 percent) including 5-of-7 from 3-pointrange in the opening 20 minutes, while the Cardinal, who shot 62.8 percent inbeating Cincinnati 78-65 in the regional semifinals, went 10-of-26 (38.5percent).

The sellout crowd of 18,008 at Anaheim Arena clearly favored the Pac-10champion Cardinal over the Terrapins of the Atlantic Coast Conference, playing3,000 miles from home.

In the end, it didn't matter as the Cardinal, ranked second in the finalAssociated Press poll, failed in their attempt for a second Final Four berth infour years.

Maryland, ranked 11th, reached the third round for the fifth time in eightyears before advancing to its first regional final since 1975.

By JOHN NADEL
AP Sports Writer

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