CHARLOTTE -- The answer to "Whose collapse was more stunning?" was answered in one word, much to the delight of the Boston College faithful.
The Terrapins were knocked out of the ACC tournament 71-68 on Thursday by the unheralded Eagles, who came into the game with 12 losses in their last 13 games. While Maryland (18-14) had lost four of five, it just didn't seem possible for BC, a team which was thought to have given up as the season slid into mediocrity, to offer much of a challenge.
But anything, especially during the ACC tournament, is possible, and when Rakim Sanders dropped in a 3-pointer from the left corner to give the Eagles a 52-50 lead, Maryland began to panic. Turnovers and missed buckets mounted, poor shot selection followed and when BC star Tyrese Rice shook his first-half scoring woes, the run really began.
Sanders, Rice and Josh Southern scored to post a 10-point lead as Maryland coach Gary Williams neared apoplexy on the sideline. But the Terps still had some juice, scoring seven straight points to get back in the game with 2:43 to play.
Southern got under Bambale Osby to drop in a layup with two minutes to play and the Eagles (14-16) led by five. The lead increased to 64-57 when Biko Paris sunk two free throws with 84 seconds to play.
Maryland was forced into the fouling game and kept throwing up brick after brick. BC coolly iced its free throws and held off a late Terrapins charge as Rice knocked down two free throws in the final seconds.
Maryland's Greivis Vasquez, the ACC's fourth-leading scorer, was held to a meager 11 points. Rice finished with 19 after posting just two in the first half.
Williams, Boston College's coach from 1982-86, could only stand with his stunned team as their NCAA tournament hopes most likely died. The Eagles have to win the tournament just to have an over-.500 record and qualify for the NIT or NCAAs.
Boston College will take on third-seeded Clemson at 9:30 p.m. today. The Eagles lost 78-56 to the Tigers on Feb. 2.