<
>

Terps' non-conference home streak ends at 87

12/14/2002

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- It was one of those odd streaks that no
one really noticed until it was about a decade old. Now that's it
over, Maryland doesn't mind showing some pride over its run of 87
consecutive home non-conference victories.

Anthony Roberson scored 20 points as Florida (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today, No. 14 AP) beat Maryland 69-64 Saturday, handing the Terrapins (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today, No. 18 AP) their first home
defeat against a team from outside the Atlantic Coast Conference in
more than 13 years.

"It was well-earned,'' Maryland coach Gary Williams said of the
streak. "I don't think anybody gave us a game during that time. We
beat some ranked teams. We probably played the same December
schedule that everybody else played at this level.

"You don't talk about those things; they just kind of happen on
their own, but I'm very proud of that streak. Nobody else in the
country did it, so to me it wasn't a quirky little streak.''

Maryland's last nonconference home defeat was 70-63 to Coppin
State on Dec. 12, 1989.

The streak, the longest in the nation, began 18 days later with
a 110-91 victory over Alcorn State, but the achievement was hard to
take seriously because it was dominated by comfortable victories
over outmatched opponents. Maryland-Eastern Shore and
Maryland-Baltimore County are among schools with multiple
appearances on the list.

The Terrapins defeated just three ranked opponents at home
during the span -- Kentucky, Oklahoma and Illinois -- all within the
last three years.

"I'm sorry I was here to be on the losing team,'' Maryland
guard Steve Blake said. "It's a great streak, and all streaks come
to an end.''

The run included 84 straight wins at Cole Field House and three
at the Terrapins' new Comcast Center. The loss also ended
Maryland's 21-game overall home winning streak.

Roberson went 8-of-14 from the field, including 4-of-7 on
3-point attempts. He's not a starter, but he played a team-high 33
minutes. Matt Bonner added 16 points for Florida (7-2).

"We knew they were sitting on a long streak,'' said Roberson, a
freshman who was just 6 years old when the streak started. "We
also knew we could beat them.''

Roberson's 3-pointer started a 9-0 run that put the Gators ahead
48-40 with 13:18 left. They kept the lead the rest of the way, with
Roberson hitting another 3-pointer to silence the crowd after a
timeout, just as the Terrapins had cut the lead to two with three
minutes left.

Ryan Randle had 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead Maryland
(4-3). The defending national champions have lost three of their
last four games, all against teams that are now ranked in the Top
15.

The Terrapins were outhustled for some loose balls and hurt by
poor shot selection down the stretch. They also went just 4-for-11
from the free-throw line.

"When you are at home, you don't expect to only shoot 36
percent from the foul line,'' Williams said. "It's pretty tough to
take when you shoot at least 50 free throws a day in your home
gym.''

John Gilchrist kept Maryland in the game down the stretch with a
tip-in, a jumper and a layup as the Terrapins stayed within
striking distance. He scored eight of his 10 points in the second
half. Drew Nicholas added 13 points, but he was just 5-for-15 from
the field.

Neither team got into much of a flow in the first half. The
Terrapins went 15 minutes without a basket from outside the paint,
partly because Nicholas missed seven straight shots and partly
because of some nice inside feeds to Tahj Holden and Randle.

The Gators, down 10-3 early, responded with a 14-4 run spurred
by Roberson, who led scorers with 12 first-half points. Maryland
led 34-33 at halftime.

Florida's other oncoming freshman, Matt Walsh, got an injection
to control swelling in his foot before the game. He started and
scored eight points on 1-for-9 shooting.

As for the streak, Florida coach Billy Donovan didn't crow about
ending it. He was more excited about beating the reigning NCAA
champions.

"Usually, nonconference games are against lesser opponents,''
Donovan said. "A lot of the big ones are played on neutral courts.
It was great to come in here and beat a team that has won a
national championship in a hostile environment.''