Saturday , Mar , 20 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Orange squeeze: Defending champs edge Maryland

Denver, CO (Sports Network) – Hakim Warrick scored 26 points and grabbed nine
rebounds, leading Syracuse to a wild 72-70 victory over Maryland in a battle
between the last two national champions in the second round of the NCAA
Tournament at the Pepsi Center.

Gerry McNamara, coming off a 43-point effort in a first round win over BYU,
was limited to just 13 points on 2-of-11 shooting for the defending national
champs, who will play Alabama on Thursday in Phoenix. The Crimson Tide upset
top-seeded Stanford in their second-round game.

“It’s not like I didn’t have it,” McNamara said. “They played tough defense.
When you come off a big game, I expected to be pounded. If they zero in on me
like they did today, Hakim gets more opportunities and vice versa. Having two
threats makes us that much tougher to beat.”

Craig Forth contributed 10 points and 12 rebounds for fifth-seeded Syracuse
(23-7), which held on down the stretch to reach the Sweet 16 for the fourth
straight year. The Orangemen barely escaped victorious despite holding a 16-
point advantage early in the second half.

Travis Garrison and Jamar Smith led Maryland (20-12) with 16 points apiece.
Chris McCray added 10 for the fourth-seeded Terrapins, who failed to reach
their fourth straight regional semifinal.

The Orangemen held a 13-point advantage with slightly under eight minutes to
play. Maryland, though, got back in the game with constant pressure down the
stretch, and actually had two chances to tie the game in the waning moments.

“Those guys don’t quit,” said Maryland head coach Gary Williams. “They could
have gone home at halftime, but we stuck around and got back in the game.”

With the Terrapins trailing by two with six seconds to play, McNamara
uncharacteristically missed 1-of-2 from the line. D.J. Strawberry then raced
down the court and missed a contested jumper from the right baseline. He
grabbed his own rebound in the paint and missed another last-second attempt,
allowing Syracuse to hold on for the victory.

“The bottom line is that we played a great 38 minutes and overcame a bad two
minutes,” Boeheim said.

Trailing 59-46 with 7:55 remaining, Maryland scored eight of the next 10
points. Strawberry scored the first four points of the spurt for the
Terrapins, reducing the deficit to 61-54.

The lead stood at 66-60 when Ekene Ibekwe went to the line with a chance to
further cut into the lead. But he missed both, and after Warrick hit 1-of-2
from the charity stripe, Smith continued the trend with two misses of his own
from the line, leaving Syracuse still ahead by seven with 2:34 to play.

The Orangemen, though, were unable to close the game out down the stretch with
solid free throw shooting. They hit just 4-of-8 from the line in the final
three minutes to allow Maryland back into the contest. McNamara, an excellent
free throw shooter, even missed one to allow Maryland the opportunity to tie
the game with a last-second basket.

Both teams struggled offensively early in the contest and the score was tied
at 10-10 after nine minutes.

Syracuse’s 2-3 zone had Maryland completely out of sync throughout the entire
first half. With the Terrapins unable to put many points on the board,
Syracuse built a 30-19 advantage after two free throws by Demetris Nichols
with 43 seconds to play.

The Orangemen eventually went into the locker room with a 32-22 lead behind a
stellar defensive effort. Syracuse limited Maryland to just 26 percent
shooting (7-of-27) while forcing 11 turnovers. No Terrapin player had more
than five points in the first half.

Warrick led the Orangemen, who shot just 32 percent (9-of-28) in the first
half, with 13 points.

“Hakim was tremendous today,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “When he
gets down in the low post, he is very tough to guard.”