RALEIGH, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Drew Nicholas made sure Maryland coach Gary Williams' 500th career victory would be dramatic.
Nicholas nailed a step-back 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds left as the 14th-ranked Terrapins rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to defeat Atlantic Coast Conference rival North Carolina State, 68-65.
"At first he came in as just a shooter," Williams said of Nicholas. "Now he is a complete player. He has worked hard and it is paying off."
Maryland trailed, 58-47, with nine minutes remaining but rallied behind Tahj Holden, who scored seven of his career-high 20 points in the comeback. After Holden's hook got the Terps within 63-61, Steve Blake tied it with his only basket of the game, a jumper with 2:13 remaining.
Jason Gilchrist gave the Terps a 65-63 lead on a reverse layup with 1:23 to play before Marcus Melvin evened the contest with a jump shot from near the right elbow with 14 seconds left.
Following a timeout by the Wolfpack to set their defense, Blake dribbled upcourt and found Nicholas cutting around the right side of the arc. With a hand in his face, Nicholas leaned back and swished his jumper, silencing the RBC Center crowd.
"We just wanted to get the defense out there," Wolfpack coach Herb Sendek said. "We didn't want them to get a good shot off. I thought that if we could get our defense set, then we could help defend a good look. But Maryland got a great shot off by Nicholas and he was able to knock it down."
With the win, Williams ran his career mark to 500-278 over 25 seasons in major college coaching.
Nicholas scored 17 points for Maryland (19-7, 11-4 ACC), which moved within one-half game of first-place Wake Forest in the conference standings. The Terps have one game remaining, the Demon Deacons two.
Scooter Sherrill contributed 14 points, Melvin 13, Julius Hodge 12 and Josh Powell 10 for the Wolfpack (15-10, 8-6), who are in danger of not qualifying for the NCAA Tournament.
"Herb has done a grat job of getting his team to play at the NCAA caliber, and they definitely deserve to go," Williams said.
The Wolfpack limited the Terps to 39 percent shooting in the first half to take a 39-34 advantage into the break. Nicholas scored just four points on 1-of-6 shooting in the first 20 minutes.
"We weren't as aggressive in the first half," Williams said. "We tried to force NC State to run down the shot clock and take last-second shots, and that is what they did. We tried to stay aggressive, but NC State did a great job of taking last-minute shots and making them."
But in the second half, the Wolfpack appeared to be running at half-speed, allowing the Terps to come back and snatch the victory. Maryland finished the game at 45 percent (25-of-56) and NC State at just under 40 percent (21-of-53).
"Certainly, Maryland deserves a great deal of credit," Sendek said. "They are an excellent basketball team. ... (But) our guys had been battling some illnesses all week. I think in the last 10 minutes that our guys started running out of gas."