Terps shut down Bears

Maryland disrupts Cal's rhythm

The Associated PressMarch 20, 2009 

— Maryland didn't force a lot of turnovers, didn't block a bunch of shots, didn't even create a lot of mistakes.

What the Terps did to California was much more subtle: They disrupted the Bears' rhythm.

It might not sound like much, but against a streak-shooting team like Cal it can make all the difference.

Grievis Vasquez provided the offense with 27 points and Maryland used its press to shut down the nation's best 3-point shooting team, rolling to an 84-71 victory over Cal in the first round of the West Regional on Thursday.

"I don't truthfully know if Maryland did anything different than other [teams] did, but they got us out of our rhythm a little bit," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. "Maybe that's a consequence of their press, but we never seemed to get in any sort of rhythm. It's very difficult for us to compete against a good team without shooting the ball well."

Tenth-seeded Maryland (21-13) knew what it was up against. Cal (22-11) was the nation's best-shooting team from 3-point range during the regular season, hitting 43 percent. When the Bears won, it was because they shot well from the perimeter. When they lost, it was because the opponent had kept their shooters from getting hot.

Using its press to disrupt Cal's offensive flow, the Terps rarely gave the Bears a good look from the perimeter and shored up some early interior defensive breakdowns to win a battle of guard-oriented teams. Vasquez controlled the offense, Dave Neal added 15 points and Eric Hayes had 14 to help Maryland advance past the first round in its ninth straight NCAA appearance.

The Terps will face No. 2 seed Memphis on Saturday.

"We came into the game knowing we were going to pressure them the whole game," Neal said. "We knew they would have a tough time with it."

Off the mark from the start, Cal never found a rhythm and shot 7-for-24 from 3-point range, its fourth-lowest percentage from beyond the arc this season. Theo Robertson led the Bears with 22 points. Jerome Randle had 14 but took just three shots in the second half.

"They did a good job of mixing it up," said Cal guard Patrick Christopher, who was 0-for-7 from 3-point range. "They had a couple of different presses. It just kind of messed us up offensively."

Vasquez finished 10-for-21 from the floor and added five rebounds and four assists to help Maryland reach the second round. Not bad for a team that had coach Gary Williams under fire for playing poorly just two months earlier.

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