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Championship Form

Maryland, last year's national titlist, follows first-round scare with a 77-64 win over Xavier.

March 24, 2003|From Associated Press

NASHVILLE — No need to beat the buzzer this time. Maryland is off on another run in the NCAA tournament.

The defending national champion Terrapins, who got a game-winning three-point basket from Drew Nicholas in the most exciting finish of the first round, shut down David West early and defeated Xavier, 77-64, Sunday to reach the round of 16 for the third consecutive year.

"That shot gave us a lot of confidence coming into this game," Coach Gary Williams said.

"But this was a totally different game, and we were playing great defense and turning it into offense."

Nicholas and Ryan Randle scored 17 points apiece, and Steve Blake had nine points and nine assists for sixth-seeded Maryland, which will play Michigan State in the South Regional semifinals Friday in the Alamodome at San Antonio.

Maryland (21-9) shot 51.7%.

"We're the only team in the tournament who's the defending champs," said Blake, a senior guard who has played in 15 NCAA tournament games. "We want to prove how good we are and make a name for ourselves."

West, the three-time Atlantic 10 Conference player of the year, finished with 22 points and nine rebounds for third-seeded Xavier (26-6), but most of it came way too late.

"If Maryland is a sixth seed in this tournament, man, they're the best one I've seen," said Xavier Coach Thad Matta, whose team shot 35%.fo

The Terrapins 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.

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