Terps finish strong to top NC State, 87-80

February 20, 2011 | Luke Jones

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — With the backdrop of Greivis Vasquez’s jersey being raised to the rafters and the 10th anniversary celebration of the 2001 Final Four team, Maryland had plenty of extra motivation Sunday to rebound from its disappointing two-game road trip that’s left their tournament hopes in major jeopardy.

And bounce back they did, using career performances from Terrell Stoglin and Dino Gregory as well as a game-high 26 points from Jordan Williams to give the Terps an 87-80 victory over North Carolina State, giving Maryland (17-10, 6-6 ACC) only its third win of the season in games decided by 10 points or fewer.

“It seems like every game when we’re down or when we’re fighting a team we can’t get that win,” Williams said. “And tonight when I looked up and we were about to win the game, I was like, ‘It’s about time, we finally got over that hump.'”

The sophomore forward scored 26 points in the first 28 minutes of the game but was held scoreless in the final 12, leaving him one point shy of his career mark. It forced the Terps to look elsewhere for the means to finish off a close game, a task Maryland has struggled with immensely throughout the season.

Stoglin’s 25 points and nine assists — both career highs — and Gregory’s career-best 18 points to go along with 10 rebounds provided the complementary production the Terps have sorely lacked in these types of games all season. The freshman point guard from Tuscon, Ariz. has scored 50 points in his last two games, emerging as the team’s second-best scoring option down the stretch.

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Williams, Stoglin, and Gregory combined for 69 of Maryland’s 87 points, but one of the game’s most critical contributions was made by struggling junior Sean Mosley.

In the midst of a disappointing season that’s seen his scoring average drop from 10.1 points a year ago to just 8.5, Mosley came off the bench for just the second time this season (replaced in the starting lineup by Cliff Tucker) and chipped in 10 points, eight in the second half.

Mosley’s running basket with 5:18 to play broke a 71-71 tie and gave Maryland the lead for good. The Baltimore native would score six of eight Maryland points over a 2:18 stretch to turn another potentially uncomfortable finish into a much-needed victory to keep the Terps’ slim NCAA tournament hopes — in terms of their regular season resume anyway — alive for a few more days.

“Sean Mosley came off the bench and was great,” Maryland coach Gary Williams said. “He could have pouted but he didn’t. He just came out to play, and we needed him. I thought he did a great job.”

Maryland shot a season-best 58.2 percent on the night, but trailed 40-38 at halftime due to 10 first-half turnovers that led to 17 Wolfpack points. Behind Stoglin and fellow freshmen Pe’Shon Howard, Maryland had just two turnovers to 10 assists after intermission.

The two freshmen started in the backcourt together for the first time, providing optimism for the remainder of the season and beyond that.

“Honestly, it was fun [playing beside Howard],” Stoglin said. “Pe’Shon and I are real close, so we got to start together, so it felt real good. Instead of battling each other for that position, we got to play and share it together.”

Maryland’s 87 points — their second-highest total in ACC play this season — came without the benefit of a 3-pointer after attempting only one triple in the entire game.

The Terps now shift their attention to Wednesday night’s battle with Florida State in College Park before traveling to Chapel Hill next weekend. Unlikely as it might be, wins in both games would put Maryland back in the tournament picture as the calendar turns to March.

“We’ve just got to take it game by game,” Jordan Williams said. “Every opportunity to play we’ve got to go out there with the mindset that we’re going to win the game and that’s what we did today.”

It’s a mindset Maryland will need to grip desperately down the stretch.

NOTES: The Terps are now tied for sixth in the conference standings with Boston College. … Maryland now leads the all-time seriese with NC State, 75-72, and has won eight in a row over the Wolfpack. … Gregory posted the third double-double of his career and hit double digits in scoring for the fourth straight game. … Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from Greivis Vasquez, Gary Williams, and Terrell Stoglin.