Maryland rides Baxter to victory over Georgetown
Updated: Friday March 23, 2001 12:35 AM
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Finally, in his 23rd year of coaching top-level college basketball, Gary Williams has guided a team to an NCAA tournament regional final.
He's not ready to celebrate just yet.
"We win one more game this year and all of a sudden, I'm a lot smarter," Williams said after third-seeded Maryland beat No. 10 Georgetown 76-66 on Thursday night in a neighborhood battle played 3,000 miles from home. "That's the way it is in college basketball.
"I've had a lot of good players on teams who have reached the Sweet 16."
In his 12th year as coach of the Terrapins, Williams later admitted the accomplishment did mean a lot.
"I'm not trying to low-key it," he said. "But that's something you think about later on. We've got one day to get ready for a very good team. You don't want to be satisfied."
Lonny Baxter had 26 points and 15 rebounds, and Juan Dixon added 13 points for the Terrapins (24-10), who will face the winner of Thursday night's second game between top-seeded Stanford and No. 5 Cincinnati in Saturday's West Regional final.
The winner of that game advances to the Final Four.
"We really struggled early," Williams said after Maryland's ninth win in the last 10 games. "As we settled down, we were able to execute more and make passes. We led the ACC in assists, so when we pass the ball, we're a very good team.
"Our defense was really good in terms of making them take tough shots. The second half, obviously Lonny had a great game. We were able to get the ball to Lonny."
Baxter said every time he caught the ball, he tried to attack the basket, even though he was going up against taller players.
"I play against big guys in our league, I always play against bigger people," said the 6-foot-8, 260-pounder.
After a basket by Lee Scruggs drew Georgetown within three points, a layup by Tahj Holden and two free throws by Baxter put the Terps ahead 63-56 with 5:10 remaining.
A 3-pointer by Kevin Braswell drew the Hoyas within four points before a basket by Baxter and a fast-break layup by Danny Miller made it 67-59. Georgetown wasn't closer than five points after that.
Two free throws by Holden, who scored 10 points, and another pair by Dixon in the final 28 seconds completed the scoring.
Georgetown coach Craig Esherick said the zone defense Maryland employed starting late in the first half hurt his team.
"We lost all of our momentum," Esherick said. "We had a lot of trouble getting good shots after that.
"And their full-court pressure when they started running at Kevin, it really bothered us. It forced us back on our heels."
Braswell, who led the Hoyas (25-8) with 17 points -- all but two in the second half -- pointed to Maryland's 51-41 rebounding advantage.
"Maryland showed that they can rebound, and we didn't stop them," Braswell said. "They tried to push it up the court quickly and take advantage of their quickness. The teams that have beaten us this year have outrebounded us."
Demetrius Hunter added 11 points, Mike Sweetney had 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Scruggs scored 10 for Georgetown.
The schools, located 15 miles apart on the East Coast, were playing for the first time since the 1993-94 season and just the second time in 21 years.
Neither team shot well -- Maryland finished at 40.3 percent and Georgetown at 30.8 percent.
The Terps were playing in a third-round NCAA tournament game for the fifth time in eight years, but lost the previous four times.
In addition, two Boston College teams coached by Williams in the 1980s also bowed out in the third round, making Williams 0-for-6 in such games.
That ended Thursday night.
Georgetown last reached the third round in 1996, when the Hoyas advanced to the regional finals before being eliminated.
The Hoyas held Maryland well below its average of 85.5 points, but it wasn't enough.
Terence Morris, Maryland's third-leading scorer with a 12.5-point average, made his first field goal of the game with 17:45 remaining. Baxter followed with a dunk, and Steve Blake's foul shot gave the Terps a 44-38 lead with 16:24 left -- largest lead of the game to that stage.
The Hoyas drew within one point before Dixon's 3-pointer, two free throws by Miller and a layup with Holden put Maryland on top 54-45 with 11:48 left.
The Hoyas then scored six straight points -- the last four on free throws by Braswell -- to draw within three. But they would get no closer.
Braswell, Georgetown's second-leading scorer with an 11.3-point average, was held scoreless until making two free throws with 2:03 left in the half, giving the Hoyas a 36-31 lead.
Maryland then scored the last seven points of the half -- the final two on Byron Mouton's short jumper with one second left -- for a 37-36 lead, and the Terps stayed on top the rest of the way.
Former Georgetown coach John Thompson attended the game. Sitting right behind him, in the third row at midcourt, were former Boston Celtics star Bill Russell and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown.