Duke came close to taking the lead late in the second half, but could never quite get over the hump, and Maryland won 85-77, and took fifth place in the conference as well.Duke didn't defend particularly well. Maryland shot 52.4% and surpassed that from three point range, hitting .538 from outside. Duke did control James Gist reasonably well, but the other starters caused a lot of damage, in particular, Mike Jones and D.J. Strawberry.
Jones has had an erratic career at Maryland, but in the closing weeks of his senior season, he has played very well. As for Strawberry, he has played extraordinarily well.
When Duke rallied, it was Strawberry who stuck the knife in. He was magnificent. The guy has come a long way since he was best known for being his father's son.
Ekene Ibekwe hurt Duke as well. He scored 17, blocked two shots, and generally played a smarter game than he sometimes does.
And we continue to be impressed with Greivis Vasquez, who we think is emerging as one of the better guards in the ACC. He is very smart, very cagy, and has a knack of making key plays at key times. Strawberry has it too, but he's a senior. Vasquez is going to be superb.
For Duke, the news wasn't all bad. The defense wasn't there, of course; allowing 85 points is out of character for this team. But despite having a tough matchup with Maryland, Duke showed some good things. Greg Paulus continues to play with guts and continues to grow as a leader. Jon Scheyer was willing to take a very nervy late three pointer, which he hit. Gerald Henderson is beginning to show that he could become the go-to guy in an end-game situation.
Duke pushed back in an adverse situation and never quit competing.
Still, a loss is a loss, and there was opportunity to potentially move up to fourth with a win. That's gone now.
But still, this team has come a very long way. We're excited about the postseason, and we think this team still has room to grow. Let's go Duke!