March 19, 2009

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Maryland never let California get going from long range. Now the Terps are back in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Grievis Vasquez had 27 points and Maryland shut down the nation's best 3-point shooting team in an 84-71 victory over Cal in the first round of the West Regional on Thursday.

Tenth-seeded Maryland (21-13) disrupted Cal with its pressure defense, rarely giving the Bears a good look from the perimeter. Vasquez controlled the offense and Dave Neal chipped in 15 points, helping the Terps advance past the first round in their ninth straight NCAA appearance.

Maryland will face No. 2 seed Memphis on Saturday.

Cal (22-11), which shot a nation-best 43 percent from 3-point range during the regular season, was 7-for-24 in this one. Theo Robertson led the Bears with 22 points and Jerome Randle had 14, but took just three shots in the second half after scoring 11 points in the first.

Maryland figured to be a good matchup for the Bears. The Terps, like Cal, are undersized and like to get out in the open floor when they can.

The problem for Cal was Maryland's pressure defense.

The Terps like to run a full-court press off made shots and Cal was shaky against it early. But turnovers weren't what hurt the Bears - they had just 14. Cal's trouble was getting good looks from the perimeter.

Randle misfired on the first 3-pointer of the game and the Bears kept missing, finishing 3-for-13 in the first half. Patrick Christopher and Robertson hit consecutive 3s early in the second half to keep Cal close, but the misses started again and Maryland pulled away.

The game's marquee matchup was supposed to between Vasquez and Randle.

They lived up to the billing - at least in the first half.

Vasquez, the "Venezuelan Sensation," was his usual crafty self, tossing in off-balanced jumpers against good defense and flipping up quick shots over taller defenders inside. He had 11 points at halftime, helping Maryland to a three-point lead despite hitting 12-of-32 from the floor.

Randle, the smallest player on the court at 5-foot-10, was the third-best 3-point shooter in the country during the regular season. The Terps knew it and extended their defense out to stop him, so Randle went around them, using a lightning-quick crossover to get in the lane for a variety of scoop shots and layups.

Maryland paid a little more attention to Randle in the second half, keeping Cal's leading scorer from darting inside while staying with him on the perimeter. Randle took one shot in the first 12 minutes and finished 2-for-3 from the floor in the second half.

Vasquez never let up, continuing to slither his way through Maryland's defense, sparking the decisive run.

He took the ball from Randle and scored on a layup to cap a 12-2 run that put the Terps up 63-53, then scored on a three-point play after Adrian Bowie tracked down his own missed free throw and flipped a pass over his shoulder - while on top of a Cal defender. Vasquez followed with a no-look pass on the break to Eric Hayes, who hit the layup to put the Terps up 70-59 with 6 1/2 minutes left.