5:00 PM ET, February 17, 2003
Comcast Center, College Park, Maryland
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- Neither the snow nor Wake Forest (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 AP) could stop 13th-ranked Maryland from taking over first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.Steve Blake had 21 points and nine assists, and Drew Nicholas scored 19 as the Terrapins handed the Demon Deacons their most lopsided loss of the season, 90-67, Monday in a game delayed by a day because of a blizzard.Ryan Randle had 13 points and 13 rebounds for Maryland (16-6, 8-3), which wrestled away the top spot in the ACC from Wake Forest (17-4, 7-3) while avenging an 81-72 defeat last month.The defending NCAA champions have won seven of eight overall against the Demon Deacons and five straight at home.Josh Howard scored 20 points for Wake Forest, which was hoping to build on Thursday's double-overtime victory over Duke. But after cutting a 17-point deficit to six in the second half, the Demon Deacons made only one basket in the final 10 minutes.The Comcast Center was nearly filled, even though there was around two feet of snow on the ground outside and the game was hastily rescheduled from Sunday night. The starting time of 5 p.m. was not announced until well after noon on Monday.Maryland officials preferred a later makeup date, but conference policy dictates that a game must be played if both teams and the game officials can make it to the arena."The bottom line is that we are following the ACC policy set down in 1996. We have two teams. We have enough officials. There is no reason not to play the game,'' said Fred Barakat, the ACC associate commissioner."I was told that poor attendance was not a reason to set the policy aside,'' Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow said. "Certainly, that was a concern for us. That said, I am amazed by the number of people who are at this game. I am grateful so many fans made the effort to get here on such short notice.''It turned out to be a lost three-day weekend for the Demon Deacons, who beat the snow but were stuck in their College Park hotel waiting to learn if and when the first-place showdown would take place.Up by 10 at halftime, Maryland used a 3-pointer by Tahj Holden and baskets by Randle and Calvin McCall at the outset of the second half to make it 48-31.Wake Forest closed to 50-43, but Blake made two free throws and Nicholas added a 3-pointer to build the lead up to 12 points. But Wake battled back again, closing to 65-59 on two free throws by Trent Strickland.Blake then hit a 3-pointer to spark a 13-2 run that enabled Maryland to pull away for good. Until Strickland made a 3-pointer with 51 seconds left, the Demon Deacons' last field goal was Howard's three-point play with 10:08 to go.Wake Forest took an early 12-6 lead, but Nicholas scored six points in 16-4 run that put the Terrapins ahead to stay. It was 25-19 before McCall made a follow shot and a 3-pointer to increase the margin to 11.Wake Forest went 9-for-24 from the field in the first half, going without a basket for the final four minutes. Maryland made 16 of its 28 first-half shots and outrebounded the Demon Deacons 18-11.Maryland finished with a 44-24 rebounding edge and went 27-for-30 at the line.