College Basketball: Maryland 79, Wake Forest 72

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 3, 2007

By David Shaw

Salisbury Post

WINSTON-SALEM — Wake Forest had a chance to escape the ACC basement Saturday night but failed to stick its dismount.

The Demon Deacons sliced a 23-point second-half deficit to five before falling to visiting Maryland 79-72.

“You can’t get down by 20 and expect to shoot your way back,” senior Michael Drum said. “Not in this conference. It’s frustrating. It’s actually happened to us a couple of times this year.”

This time Wake (10-12, 2-8 ACC) spent the better part of 30 minutes looking like a prizefighter about to hit the canvas. Then Drum laced on the gloves and scored 10 points in a 1:43 span — nearly rescuing the Deacs single-handedly.

“We were down four buckets at halftime after playing horrifically,” Wake coach Skip Prosser said. “Michael Drum obviously gave us a great lift off the bench.”

Drum finished with 16 points — all in the second half — but the damage had been done. Maryland (17-6, 3-5) played collapsing, phone-booth defense against Wake center Kyle Visser in the first half, limiting the 6-foot-11 senior to five points while building a 32-24 lead.

“They clogged the middle on me pretty well,” Visser said after totaling 16 points and nine rebounds. “I wouldn’t say they took me out of the game, but we needed to make some solid plays and we couldn’t. We made too many mental mistakes. We left guys wide open. We gave them quite a few easy looks, but, hey, you’ve got to give them credit.”

Maryland’s credit began accumulating in the second half. Easy layups by Ekene Ibekwe and D.J. Strawberry coupled with James Gist’s right-side jumper propelled the Terps to a

38-25 lead. By the time seven-foot center Will Bowers swished a short jump shot with 12:18 remaining, UM was coasting 55-32 and the Joel Coliseum boo birds were in full chorus.

“We had a lot of empty possessions,” said Drum, who was 3-for-5 from 3-point range. “They were trying to take Kyle away from the inside and make everybody else take shots from outside.”

It got even tougher when Drum became an instant-offense reserve. The 6-6 forward launched an 18-2 run when he buried a 3-pointer with 12:07 to play. Four minutes later he drained another 3 — this one from deep in the left corner — and the Deacs were within 57-49.

“The second half he put together was huge,” Visser said.

Just not huge enough. Wake inched as close as 77-72 when freshman L.D. Williams hit a

3-pointer with 12 seconds to go. But the Terps, who went 7-of-8 from the foul line in the final 40 seconds, were safe at home.

“They just outplayed us,” Prosser said. “We didn’t make any free throws to stop the bleeding. We missed wide open shots that could have stopped the bleeding. And we didn’t guard them the way we need to guard.”

*

NOTES: Wake was 12-for-23 from the free-throw line after sinking just three of its first 13 attempts. … Central Cabarrus graduate Ishmael Smith had nine points, nine rebounds and seven assists for the Deacs. … Ibekwe had 16 points to surpass 1,000 in his career. … The Deacs play host to city rival Winston-Salem State on Tuesday.

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