for this game

Maryland rallies to stun North Carolina

Feb 26, 2007 - 3:33 AM COLLEGE PARK, Maryland (Ticker) -- Maryland didn't let a blown opportunity pass.

D.J. Strawberry scored a career-high 27 points as the Terrapins rallied from a 12-point second-half deficit and knocked off No. 5 North Carolina, 89-87, in an Atlantic Coast Conference matchup.

Maryland (22-7, 8-6 ACC) won its fifth straight game while dropping the Tar Heels (24-5, 10-4) into a three-way tie for first place in the ACC with Virginia and Virginia Tech with two league games remaining.

"We could have given up," Strawberry said. "They had us down by 12 and they were hitting a lot of shots and they were on a roll. We just toughed it out and it shows the heart of this team. We just wanted it more than they did."

Failing to hold a double-digit lead with less than seven minutes to play had the North Carolina players questioning their resolve.

"This is very frustrating. We can't crumble whenever the game gets tight," sophomore center Tyler Hansbrough said. "We have to be tough. ... It is a toughness thing."

"We had another breakdown," teammate Reyshawn Terry said. "We keep hitting the same wall. It's making me a little nervous, honestly."

Even though the Terrapins dominated the backboards, 46-33, and shot a sizzling 64 percent (18-of-28) in the second half, North Carolina seemed to have the game safely tucked away, twice building the margin to 12 points.

With the Tar Heels leading, 77-67, Bobby Frasor missed a breakaway layup with 6:26 to play. The Terrapins immediately took advantage as Mike Jones hit a 3-pointer 10 seconds later to reduce the margin to 77-70, making it a five-point swing.

Strawberry also connected from the arc to pull Maryland within 77-73 with 5 1/2 minutes left and the momentum had turned.

Jones gave the Terrapins their first lead since 1-0, hitting back-to-back jumpers for an 81-80 advantage with 2:47 to play.

The lead went back and forth until Ekene Ibekwe and James Gist each hit a pair of free throws to extend Maryland's margin to 89-84 with 56 seconds left.

Freshman Wayne Ellington buried a 3-pointer to make it a two-point game with 48 seconds left, and North Carolina had a chance to tie when freshman Brandan Wright was fouled with 3.5 seconds to play.

A 56 percent free-throw shooter on the season, Wright missed the first attempt and intentionally missed the second, but time ran out as the teams scrambled for the rebound.

Jones added 18 points and Strawberry finished 12-of-18 from the field as the Terrapins snapped a five-game losing streak vs the Tar Heels.

"Strawberry was a force. I thought he was really a senior today," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "Of course, our free-throw shooting down the stretch was excellent. Our guys had a lot of courage stepping to the line. ... We didn't play perfect. We started to make plays necessary to win the game."

Hansbrough scored 22 points for North Carolina, which finished just 8-of-17 from the free-throw line. Ellington added 17, including 10 in a row as he helped the Tar Heels jump out to an 18-7 lead before the Terps cut it to 44-41 at the break.

"We had some great chances but you've got to give credit to Maryland," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "Early in the game they just kicked us as hard as you could be kicked. ... They went after the basketball harder than we did."