Warren Carter dunks the ball during the first half.
Nov. 28, 2006
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -Maryland freshman Greivis Vasquez wasn't bothered by Illinois' loud homecourt that has been intimidating to visiting non-conference schools for eight years.
Terps teammate Mike Jones even likened the atmosphere to the raucous one at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Tuning out the orange-clad partisans, Vasquez and Jones led No. 23 Maryland to a 72-66 win Tuesday night, ending Illinois' 51-game non-conference winning streak at Assembly Hall dating back to 1988.
"I'm not afraid. I'm ready for this," Vasquez said after scoring 15 of his 17 points in the second half as the Terps recovered after blowing a 15-point lead.
"I'm from Venezuela, and I didn't come here just to sit on the bench. I came here to play," Vasquez said.
Vasquez's steal and layup with 1:22 left to play gave the Terps the 65-60 lead.
With Jones scoring 19 and Vasquez playing like an experienced veteran, Maryland was able to overcome the absence of shot blocker and rebounder Ekene Ibekwe, who sat out with an ankle injury. The Terps' 8-0 start is their best since the 1988-89 team won its first 10.
"I don't feel like a hero," Vasquez said. "I was just helping my team win."
Maryland (8-0) built a 14-point lead less than 8 minutes into the game and was up 20-6 when James Gist dunked with 12:55 left in the first half. Jones and Gist led Maryland in the first half. Jones had 13 points including 3-of-3 3-point shooting, and Gist added 9 points and 5 rebounds.
Maryland increased the lead to 29-14 when Jones hit another 3-pointer with just more than 7 minutes to go in the half.
"We were tough enough to handle the crowd early, and I think that was one of the keys to the game," Maryland coach Gary Williams said.
"We were able to score early."
The Illini (7-1), behind Warren Carter, went on a 12-3 run in the last 6:48 of the first half to make it 33-28 at the break.
"It should have been closer in the second half than it was," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. "Then in the second half we didn't grab it."
Illinois took a five-point lead in the second half but couldn't hold on.
"I think we just thought the lead was going to extend itself when we went up five," Carter said. "We've just got to know how to close the gap."
Maryland grabbed the lead back when Jones and D.J. Strawberry hit back-to-back jumpers, making it 55-52 with 5:36 to go.
Illinois' Rich McBride tied it with a 3-pointer, but Jones answered with one of his own.
Maryland was up 63-58 on a layup and a free throw from Bambale Osby and a pair of free throws from Vazquez.
Illinois' Trent Meacham made two free throws cut it to three with 1:59 to go before Vazquez made his key steal. Osby, who filled in nicely for Ibekwe, made a pair of free throws to give the Terps a 67-60 advantage with 43 seconds to play.
The Illini finally caught up in the second half and then took the lead at 42-40 on Calvin Brock's 3-pointer with just more than 12 minutes left.
"We shouldn't lose at home, I don't care who's here," Weber said. "We gave up 72 percent shooting in the second half. I understand the competition's good, but that shouldn't happen at home."