I want to take some time today to celebrate ANOTHER historic win in the tenure of Gary Williams as Head Coach at the University of Maryland. I was actually on the phone with another Terp (Bert Sugar) when the game went final; and I think I was slightly more excited than he was. If you never lived on the 8th floor of a building with Byrd Stadium in your window, or couldn’t wait to get to Chick-Fil-A at Stamp for Lunch, or snuck in through the window of a bar on Rt. 1; maybe this one didn’t mean as much to you as it did to many of us.
With that in mind, I decided to try to put together a list of Gary’s Top 10 REGULAR SEASON wins at the University or Maryland. Feel free to share your thoughts.
10. #23 Maryland 98, #3 Duke 87, 2/9/00
No one thought they could it. Duke had won 18 in a row overall. They had won 31 straight in the Atlantic Coast Conference. They had won 46 straight in Cameron Indoor Stadium. However, they had NO answer for sophomore guard Juan Dixon’s career-high 31 points; and two late 3’s from a jubilant Terence Morris. And they didn’t have the BEAUTIFUL Maryland state flag the Terps unfurled to wave on the Devils’ home court after the win.
9. #19 Maryland 85, #13 North Carolina 75, 1/8/97
Maybe the significance wasn’t quite as much as some of the other wins on this list, but the way Maryland won this game will NEVER be forgotten. Maryland fell behind 66-44 to Antawn Jamison and the Heels, but rallied for the win in Chapel Hill. No one believed what they were watching.
8. Maryland 82, #1 North Carolina 80 1/19/08
Time will tell the historic significance of this one; but with losses to American and Ohio U. already on the schedule; this almost immediately became a season savior. This could be a career turnaround for some players as well. Making it even more impressive was the fact that the Heels were undefeated on the season at the time.
7. Maryland 89, #1 North Carolina 83 1/14/98
The Washington Post’s headline read “Terps Topple Top Ranked Tar Heels.” I believe I still have that front page somewhere. They weren’t kidding, either. The game went to OT, and the Terps were forced to use THREE freshmen on the floor in the extra frame (Terence Morris, Mike Mardesich, and LaRon Cephas). Three years later, Morris and Mardesich would use their experience to lead Maryland to their first Final Four.
6. #16 Maryland 91, #2 Duke 80, 2/27/01
After blowing a ten point lead in the final minute of their matchup in College Park, the Terps HAD to prove they could exercise the demons. Making it even better was the fact that they did it on the night when Duke celebrated Terp Killer Shane Battier’s final home game. It was also Maryland’s second consecutive win at Cameron Indoor Stadium; which was almost unheard of.
5. #11 Maryland 54, #2 Wake Forest 51, 1/19/97
There were some that thought that the renaissance of Maryland hoops would die when Joe Smith left school following his sophomore year. Getting a win on the road at Tim Duncan and the #2 Deacs made it hard to continue to believe that. LaRon Profit was the hero, and Obinna Ekezie learned a lot as well. Keith Booth kept Duncan in check, a job that was by no means easy. Did anyone ever figure out if LaRon’s shot actually left his hand in time?
4. Maryland 89, #5 North Carolina 87, 2/25/07
You think this wasn’t important? Apparently you didn’t see Gary’s post-game interview. He spent the post-game interview absolutely in TEARS. After missing the NCAA Tournament for 2 straight years, this win clinched a return to March for the Terps; and gave Seniors D.J. Strawberry, Mike Jones, and Ekene Ibekwe a moment for fans to always remember them by.
3. Maryland 86, #1 North Carolina 73, 2/7/95
The Terps had arrived two years earlier, but thanks to the combined efforts of Keith Booth and Joe Smith would give the Terps the win over the Number 1 Heels, and prove that they were capable of beating ANYONE. This was the first time I can ever remember wanting to watch every repeat of SportsCenter at night AND in the morning; as this was the first time you got the feeling that Gary might have been building a superior program.
2. #3 Maryland 87, #1 Duke 73, 2/7/02
They needed to beat Duke. They needed to prove that they had gotten past the “Gone in 54 Seconds” game. This was the win that gave the Terps the rite of passage to go on and win the NCAA Championship. After they beat Duke this day, they knew they were the best team in the country. And oh yeah, there was something about a steal…..
1. Maryland 84, #15 Georgetown 83 11/26/93
Walt Williams, Evers Burns, Kevin McClinton, etc. had shown signs in Gary’s first years at Maryland; but it was time for a signature win. How about a season opening win over your Top 25 cross-town rival? This was Joe Smith’s coming out party; but it was really Gary’s coming out party at his alma mater as well. And it just so happened to feature one of the all-time clutch drives by Duane Simpkins to finish the deal.
There are a number of Honorable Mentions that could have been considered for this list. Certainly the Terps’ rally at Virginia could have been there, or the win at #1 Florida. There were the wins over Kansas and Stanford in the BB & T Classic; plus there was Drew Nicholas’ shot to beat NC State and clinch a tournament berth in 2003. Joe Smith’s 40 point game at Duke could have been considered, but that wasn’t a great Duke team. I even thought about the “shoes” game where Maryland beat Oklahoma in College Park; as that really invigorated them to go on and beat Duke.
What’s your favorite? What did I miss? Share your memories with me!