7:00 PM ET, January 29, 2004
Lawrence Joel Coliseum, Winston-salem, North Carolina
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -- The shot clock was winding down and Wake Forest freshman Chris Paul had to improvise. Taught to drive to the basket in that situation, Paul went against the lesson plan and fired up a 3-pointer.He made it, and snapped the 19th-ranked Demon Deacons four-game losing streak with the shot.Paul scored 25 points, including the pivotal 3-pointer with 2:23 to play, to lead Wake Forest to 93-85 victory over Maryland on Thursday night."I thought that 3 was a dagger," Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser said.Paul let out a sigh of relief as the ball sailed through the hoop for an 82-75 lead."Coach always tells me at the end of the shot clock to drive," Paul said. "But I didn't have enough time, so thank God it went in."The Demon Deacons (12-4, 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) had struggled mightily with their scoring during their losing streak as Paul and fellow guard Justin Gray had not been able to find an offensive rhythm.But the two snapped out of it against Maryland (11-6, 2-4) and helped Wake Forest overcome a 10-point halftime deficit.Gray scored 16 of his 20 points in the first half, and Paul picked up the slack in the second half after a fiery speech from Prosser."Coach had been pretty intense during the losing streak, and he was after us again at halftime," Gray said. "He said this would be our biggest win so far, the next 20 minutes were the most important we've played this season, and we had to get with it and go get this game."Taron Downey added 12 points for the Deacons and freshman Kyle Visser had 11.Nik Caner-Medley led Maryland with 15 points. Travis Garrison scored 13, John Gilchrist had 12 and Mike Jones 11.Wake Forest had seemingly wrapped the game up on Paul's 3-pointer, but a flurry of late Maryland 3-pointers -- two from Gilchrist and one from Jones -- made it a close final margin.Maryland coach Gary Williams was clearly frustrated after the Terrapins blew a 53-43 halftime lead behind 14 second-half turnovers. Seven of the turnovers came early in the second period when Wake Forest clawed back into the game."We didn't look like we had the same energy at the start of the second half and I think we gave Wake a little confidence early," Williams said. "We just didn't play that good in the second half."The game had the usual tense atmosphere of two teams that don't particularly care for each other, and was marked by three technical fouls. Paul and Jones were each called for one for pushing and shoving after a basket by Paul, and Skip Prosser also got one for kicking the scoring table.It was a fitting show for former Wake Forest star Josh Howard, who was in attendance and had his jersey retired at halftime. Howard, now with the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, closed last year's meeting here with a postgame shoving match with former Maryland star Steve Blake.But once the officials made their presence known in this one -- and Prosser told his Deacons to toughen up -- most of the action was game related."It's nice to win a congenitally award and we do have really nice kids," Prosser said. "But ACC games are usually not family reunions."Eric Williams, Wake Forest's leading scorer at 14.6 points a game, continued his recent slide. After scoring a combined 30 points in the Deacons' first four losses, Williams found himself in foul trouble for most of the game against Maryland.Williams finished seven points in 13 minutes.Maryland had its own foul troubles, as well.Smith was limited to 10 minutes in the first half, and finished with 10 points before fouling out.Gilchrist, Maryland's leading scorer, also had foul problems and a horrible shooting night. He finished 3-for-11 from the field.