The Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - This was going to be the greatest comeback in Xavier history.
After trailing Maryland by 20 points in the first half, when they couldn't buy a basket, the Musketeers kept whittling away as National Player of the Year David West either shot or passed off to teammates who could score. With 6:06 left, Romain Sato hit the first of two free throws to cut the gap to 60-57.
Xavier's Dedrick Finn walks past celebrating Maryland players after the game.
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But that was as close as they got, and the Musketeers were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the second round.
The Terrapins did what defending national champions do. They stopped the Musketeers' run with a big shot.
Drew Nicholas, whose fall-away 3 at the buzzer against North Carolina-Wilmington got the Terps into this game, hit a 3-pointer from the top of key.
That started Maryland on an 11-4 run, and that was that.
"They were making a great run at us, putting us on our heels," Maryland guard Steve Blake said. "Drew came up and gave us a lot of confidence with that shot. We just went from there."
Maryland's Ryan Randle yells after dunking over Romain Sato and David West.
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"We did a tremendous job getting back in the game, but we weren't sharp," Xavier coach Thad Matta said. "Against Maryland, you have to be clicking every possession of the game."
"We dug ourselves a grave early," West said. "We let them get out and get going."
West, the three-time Atlantic 10 player of the year, finished with 22 points and nine rebounds for No. 3 seed Xavier (26-6), but most of it came way too late.
Xavier, trying for the school's second trip to the regional semifinals and first since 1990, shot itself out of the game early, hitting 28.6 percent from the floor in the first half (8-of-28).
Sato finished with 17 points on 4-of-14 shooting, and Lionel Chalmers had 12.
Nicholas and Ryan Randle scored 17 points apiece for sixth-seeded Maryland, which will play the winner of Sunday night's Florida-Michigan State game in the South Regional semifinals Friday at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Maryland's Steve Blake is cut off from the basket by West.
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Blake, the most experienced player in the tournament, had nine points and nine assists as the Terrapins (21-9) shot 51.7 percent (30-of-58) from the floor.
"We're the only team in the tournament who's the defending champs," Blake said. "We want to prove how good we are and make a name for ourselves."
"If Maryland is a sixth seed in this tournament, man, they're the best one I've seen," Matta said.
Just making the NCAA tournament was the challenge Williams gave his Terrapins this season after losing four starters - including Lonny Baxter, Juan Dixon and Chris Wilcox - from last year's championship squad.
Maryland's Drew Nicholas shoots over Lionel Chalmers.
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The Terps came in with their lowest seed since a No. 7 in 1996. Now, they're in the round of 16 for the 13th time, and they want much more.
"We felt like the Sweet 16 wasn't a really high expectation," senior Tahj Holden said. "The Final Four isn't a really high expectation. The national championship is our goal."
Why not when Williams has plenty of experience left? He started four seniors with a combined record of 12-2 in tournament games Sunday.
The Musketeers scored the first five points, but Maryland answered with a 19-4 run. Then Xavier made it interesting as West, held to 2-of-8 shooting in the first half, got going in the second.
He hit the boards hard on the defensive end, started driving to the basket and got Randle, Jamar Smith and Travis Garrison in foul trouble. West scored nine straight points to trim the lead to 54-44 with 12:21 left.
fg ft rb
min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp
N Caner-Medley 24 3-5 0-0 0-2 1 2 6
T Holden 34 1-8 3-4 0-6 2 3 5
R Randle 19 8-12 1-1 1-5 0 4 17
D Nicholas 36 6-16 3-4 1-8 5 2 17
S Blake 37 3-7 2-2 1-7 9 0 9
J Smith 15 6-6 0-0 0-2 0 4 12
A Collins 3 0-0 0-0 0-0 2 0 0
T Garrison 12 2-3 1-2 2-5 0 4 5
C McCall 12 0-0 0-0 2-3 0 1 0
J Gilchrist 8 1-1 4-4 0-1 0 1 6
TOTALS 200 30-58 14-17 7-39 19 21 77
Percentages: FG-.517, FT-.824. 3-Point Goals:
3-13, .231 (N Caner-Medley 0-1, T Holden 0-3,
D Nicholas 2-5, S Blake 1-4). Team Rebounds:
0. Blocked Shots: 6 (N Caner-Medley 2, T
Garrison 2, T Holden, D Nicholas). Turnovers:
8 (S Blake 3, T Holden, D Nicholas, R Randle,
N Caner-Medley, J Smith). Steals: 2 (S Blake
fg ft rb
min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp
R Sato 40 4-14 6-8 1-3 3 3 17
D West 39 6-17 10-14 0-9 3 3 22
A Myles 32 4-9 0-0 1-3 0 3 8
L Chalmers 40 4-9 1-2 1-4 1 4 12
D Finn 36 2-4 0-0 0-2 5 2 5
K Jackson 5 0-2 0-0 2-2 0 1 0
W Caudle 8 0-2 0-0 1-3 0 0 0
TOTALS 200 20-57 17-24 6-26 12 16 64
Percentages: FG-.351, FT-.708. 3-Point Goals:
7-18, .389 (R Sato 3-8, L Chalmers 3-7, D
Finn 1-3). Team Rebounds: 2. Blocked Shots:
0. Turnovers: 7 (D West 3, D Finn 2, W
Caudle, A Myles). Steals: 2 (L Chalmers, R
MARYLAND 45 32 - 77
XAVIER 28 36 - 64
Technical fouls: None. A: 17,484. Officials: David
Hall, Ed Hightower, Kerry Sitton
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