Dec 7, 2002
By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON – Maryland was only a few minutes removed from a 79-67 loss to Notre Dame when coach Gary Williams ran into Juan Dixon in the hallway of the MCI Center.
Dixon enjoyed a spectacular season at shooting guard for the defending national champions a year ago. Now, however, the school’s career scoring leader is a rookie with the Washington Wizards, who on this night were preparing to face the New York Knicks.
After the conversation ended, Williams muttered to no one in particular, “You sure he doesn’t have a year of eligibility left?”
The ninth-ranked Terrapins sure could have used Dixon on Saturday. Maryland shot a miserable 37 percent and fell into its first losing streak since February 2001.
“Offensively, we didn’t shoot it well enough to make up for our inability to run a half-court offense,” Williams said. “When you’re hot, you can make up for it.”
Freshman Torin Francis scored a 20 points on 8-for-8 shooting as Notre Dame recorded its second straight upset of a ranked team. The Irish, coming off a 92-71 rout of No. 13 Marquette on Monday, never trailed after taking command late in the first half.
“Could we do what we did Monday night on the road? I thought we did that for 40 minutes,” Irish coach Mike Brey said.
Notre Dame (7-1) will seek another upset Sunday against No. 2 Texas in the championship of the BB&T Classic. Texas advanced with a 100-92 victory over George Washington.
It definitely wasn’t just any other game.Dan Miller
Maryland (3-2) will face GW in the consolation game.
Matt Carroll had 19 points and former Terrapin Dan Miller added 17 for the Irish, who led by as many as 18 against the defending champs.
Miller transferred from Maryland after helping the Terrapins reach the Final Four in 2001.
“It definitely wasn’t just any other game,” Miller said. “It was a game I was looking forward to for a year-and-a-half.”
Coming off an overtime loss to Indiana, the Terrapins cut a 10-point halftime deficit to 35-30 in the opening minutes of the second half. But the Irish responded with an 11-4 run to make it 46-34.
After Steve Blake hit a 3-pointer – Maryland’s first from beyond the arc after 11 misses – Thomas scored in the lane and Carroll added a short jumper and a 3-pointer for a 53-37 cushion with 11:50 to go.
The Terrapins never got closer than eight, and ultimately fell behind 67-49 with 5:34 remaining.
Torin Francis dunks over Maryland’s Ryan Randle during the first half.
“It was a great win for us. We’re still trying to figure out our identity,” Brey said.
So is Maryland.
“After losing four seniors last year, we’re still trying to see how we’re going to play this year,” Williams said. “There is no magic; you have to work hard every year.”
Blake scored 15 points for the Terrapins, who have lost successive games for the first time since falling to Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Florida State nearly two years ago.
Francis scored 11 of his 14 first-half points in the final six minutes, leading a 16-5 run that put the Irish up 35-25 at halftime.
Maryland missed 27 of 38 field-goal attempts and went 0-for-9 from 3-point range. Freshman Nik Caner-Medley, getting his first start for the Terrapins, was the only Maryland player to shoot better than 50 percent.
Miller, despite being booed throughout the half by the pro-Maryland crowd, scored 11 points and was 3-for-5 from beyond the arc.
“Boos and stuff don’t bother me,” Miller said. “I expected them when I came in. I just shake it off.”