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January 17, 2009

Noles take down Terps in overtime

Photos: FSU vs. MD / FSU-Maryland Highlights

Maryland men's basketball coach Gary Williams said his defensive plan Saturday versus Florida State was to find senior Toney Douglas early, and the Terrapins did see him.

They saw him swipe the ball away. They saw him hit clutch shots. And they saw him score FSU's first seven points of overtime and eight of 10 in the extra period to lead the Seminoles over Maryland 76-73 at the Donald L. Tucker Center.

The Terps bounced back from an 11-point second half deficit to force overtime and actually took a 71-70 lead in that period after Eric Hayes made one of two free throws win 1:22 left. The Seminoles weathered that storm thanks to Douglas' game-high 25 points, including the 3-pointer with about a minute left in overtime that gave FSU the lead to stay.

Douglas led the Seminoles (15-3, 2-1 ACC) on the offensive and defensive ends, adding a game-high four steals and helping hold Maryland's star guard Greivis Vasquez to 2-of-13 shooting and six points.

"I know my teammates are looking for me all the time, up or down," Douglas said. "So I just have to lead by example no matter what it is, scoring, defense or whatever."

The Seminoles have needed that senior leadership, especially with six first-year players on the roster and most of them in the regular rotation. FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said Douglas' contributions were vital to FSU's hot start and Saturday's close win.

"Toney's always coming through for us in the clutch," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. "He maintained his poise, moved the ball and made good decisions. He's given us good leadership and great energy."

His team's energy seemed to dissipate down the stretch in the second half, thanks in part to Maryland's switch to a zone defense. FSU had been coasting, up 52-41 with 12 minutes left. Yet the Terrapins' zone allowed them to climb back into the game. From the 12-minute mark to the end of regulation, when Maryland pulled into a 66-66 tie, the Terps forced Florida State into 3-of-15 shooting and five turnovers.

"I felt they were starting to make a run," Maryland coach Gary Williams said, "and we were able to get back and keep them out of transition in the zone."

Hamilton said he could tell Maryland's zone defense started to make a difference as regulation wound down.

"They slowed us down, made us have to work to get each shot, made us have to execute," he said. "We had some good looks during that period, but they just didn't go down. They came down made some shots and I think where they hurt us most was on the offensive boards. They got some put backs that I thought could have made the difference in the game."

Williams felt one big difference was FSU's size around the basket. The Seminoles' starting frontcourt with 6-9 forward Chris Singleton, 6-9 forward Uche Echefu and 7-1 center Solomon Alabi made it tough underneath. Singleton and Alabi combined for eight of FSU's nine blocks.

"They're ridiculous how big they are," Williams said. "It is just a tremendous advantage to have an eraser back there to make up for defensive mistakes."

While Vasquez struggled through his worst shooting performance since scoring just two points against Georgetown on November 30, several of his teammates picked up the slack. Landon Milbourne led Maryland with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Adrian Bowie scored 14 and freshman Sean Mosley came off the bench to score 13.

Freshman Luke Loucks was the only other Seminole scoring in double digits with 10 points. Singleton scored nine with six rebounds and five blocks, while Alabi scored eight with three blocks.


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