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Maryland holds of Georgia Tech

ATLANTA - Well aware of Matt Causey's heroics of late, Maryland coach Gary Williams wasn't going to let Georgia Tech's new basketball cult figure beat him.

"I heard coach Williams yelling 'Foul him. Foul him,'" Causey said.

That's what Maryland, ahead by three points in the waning seconds, did Saturday.

"It's a gamble, but it's a pretty safe play," Williams said.

"I didn't really feel anyone (grab my jersey) or I would have tried to get the shot off," Causey said.

Given just two foul shots with 2.5 seconds remaining, the senior transfer had no choice but to try to make the first and miss the second.

Instead, both went in and Maryland held on for an 88-86 ACC victory at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

"I try to miss it and it goes in," Causey said. "It's a strange game."

The former Berkmar star hadn't missed many shots of any kind the previous three games, scoring 66 points during Georgia Tech's winning streak.

"Causey is shooting very well from the 3-point line," Williams said. "Getting ready for Georgia Tech, I was very surprised at how well he was shooting.

"The odds of them making one, missing the second, getting the rebound and putting it back in are probably less than them making a 3-pointer in that situation.

"At least that's what Dick Vitale says."

Causey's two foul shots left the Yellow Jackets behind by a point and Maryland iced the victory with a foul shot of its own.

The way the game started was really what did Georgia Tech in, however.

"If we would have won, it would have been pure luck," Yellow Jackets coach Paul Hewitt said.

Maryland scored the first nine points and shot 64.3 percent in a 50-point first-half effort that saw the Terps get 13 of their 18 baskets on layups or dunks.

"We've got to play much better at the start," Hewitt said. "We've been playing pretty good defense. But today we played very poor defense."

"We got outworked," Yellow Jackets freshman forward Gani Lawal said. "Our intensity wasn't there, especially at the start."

The loss dropped Georgia Tech to 3-4 in the ACC and 10-10 overall. Maryland improved to 4-3 in the ACC and 14-8 overall.

Causey and Lawal - Georgia Tech's two Gwinnett County products - had keyed the Yellow Jackets' winning streak. But both had their ups and downs against Maryland.

Causey hit his first two 3-pointers, but then missed his next five. He finished with 12 points, four assists, two steals and two turnovers in 22 minutes off the bench.

Lawal, making his 13th consecutive start, got two quick fouls in the first half, drew his third early in the second, picked up his fourth soon after returning and eventually fouled out in the late going.

The foul trouble limited the Norcross grad to 16 minutes, in which he had nine points, four rebounds and two blocks as well as five turnovers.

Lawal was 3-for-3 from the field, but continued his free-throw struggles by going 3-for-6. He is shooting more than 60 percent from the floor, but less than 50 percent from the foul line.

Every missed point makes a big difference for Georgia Tech, which has lost three times at home in the ACC by a total of five points.

Bambale Osby, a rugged senior center, scored nine of Maryland's first 14 points and capped an 18-point, 11-rebound game by hitting two fouls shots with 17 seconds left. Match-book guards Eric Hayes and Greivis Vasquez combined for 27 points and 17 assists for the Terps.

Sophomore forward Zack Peacock led Georgia Tech with 18 points. The Yellow Jackets had four players in double figures and kept cutting into double-digit deficits, but they could never quite get out of the hole.

"It just wasn't our day," Causey said.

Making a shot he was trying to miss certainly proved that.