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Irish drop Terps to second straight loss

©Associated Press
December 8, 2002

WASHINGTON -- Maryland was a few minutes removed from a 79-67 loss to Notre Dame when coach Gary Williams ran into Juan Dixon in the hallway of the MCI Center.

Dixon enjoyed a spectacular season at shooting guard for last season's national champion Terps. Now, however, the school's career scoring leader is a rookie with the Washington Wizards, who on this night were preparing to face the New York Knicks.

After the conversation ended, Williams muttered to no one in particular, "You sure he doesn't have a year of eligibility left?"

The No. 9 Terrapins sure could have used Dixon on Saturday. Maryland shot 37 percent and fell into its first losing streak since February 2001.

"Offensively, we didn't shoot it well enough to make up for our inability to run a halfcourt offense," Williams said. "When you're hot, you can make up for it."

Freshman Torin Francis scored 20 on 8-for-8 shooting as Notre Dame recorded its second straight upset of a ranked team. The Irish, coming off a 92-71 rout of No. 13 Marquette on Monday, never trailed after taking command late in the first half.

"Could we do what we did Monday night on the road? I thought we did that for 40 minutes," Irish coach Mike Brey said.

Notre Dame seeks another upset today against No. 2 Texas in the championship of the BB&T Classic.

Maryland faces George Washington in the consolation game.

Matt Carroll had 19 points and former Terrapin Dan Miller 17 for the Irish, who led by as much as 18.

Miller transferred from Maryland after helping the Terrapins reach the Final Four in 2001.

"It definitely wasn't just any other game," Miller said. "It was a game I was looking forward to for a year-and-a-half."

Coming off an overtime loss to Indiana, the Terrapins cut a 10-point halftime deficit to 35-30 in the opening minutes of the second half. But the Irish responded with an 11-4 run to make it 46-34.

After Steve Blake hit a 3-pointer, Maryland's first after 11 misses, Chris Thomas scored in the lane and Carroll added a short jumper and a 3-pointer for a 53-37 cushion with 11:50 to go.

The Terrapins never got closer than eight and fell behind 67-49 with 5:34 remaining.

"It was a great win for us. We're still trying to figure out our identity," Brey said.

So is Maryland.

"After losing four seniors last year, we're still trying to see how we're going to play this year," Williams said. "There is no magic; you have to work hard every year."

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