COLLEGE PARK Md. — For almost four weeks now the North Carolina Tar Heels have played the Ty Lawson card when games go down to the wire.
But in Saturday's 88-85 overtime loss against Maryland someone finally trumped it.
Although Lawson nearly carried the Tar Heels again" he contributed to a shocking collapse at the end of regulation as the Terps made all the necessary clutch plays to snap UNC's 10-game winning streak.
""We got outhustled. We got outcompeted. They were smarter than us. We just didn't play the way we've been taught to play for four years"" guard Bobby Frasor said. And it showed.""
Despite sub-par shooting" the Tar Heels ended the first half leading 39-30. And the normally raucous Comcast Center was nearly dead after the lead was up to 16 five minutes in.
But in similarly to last Sunday's game at Miami No. 3 UNC (24-3 10-3 ACC) suddenly let the lead slip and struggled on defense — especially against guard Greivis Vasquez who finished with 35 points 11 rebounds and 10 assists in the first triple-double for a Maryland player in 22 years.
The Terrapins (17-9 6-6 ACC) shot 61.5 percent in the second half including 7-for-12 from downtown while UNC was floundering at just 35.3 percent in the second period.
Still when the Terps crept to within five with 11:40 left Lawson again dominated by driving straight to the hoop for two contested layups to put his squad up nine.
And when the Terps were back within two with 6:39 to go Lawson managed a 2-pointer and a 3-ball to help build the lead back to 70-62.
But with UNC leading 76-67 with 1:54 left Lawson was left shell-shocked as UM reeled off a 9-0 run.
He turned the ball over against the press" chose not to pull the ball out in transition (leading to a UNC charge) and gave up the tying basket to Vasquez before having his own shot blocked as time expired.
""My turnovers were silly"" Lawson said. I passed the ball to (Hansbrough) and he got a charge. I should have probably pulled it back out.""
Even with five points in overtime" including a game-tying 3-pointer Lawson could not push the Tar Heels over the top. Down three with four seconds left" Lawson fell down trying to dribble through the defense while the crowd stormed the court.
""We should have won the game" Frasor said. We make free throws we don't turn it over we don't go charging we don't go for a layup" we take the ball out and run some more time off. It's a totally different outcome.""
Lawson ended with 24 points on a career-high 20 shots"" along with a season-low two assists.
""A little bit" Lawson said when asked whether UNC is relying on him too much to take over games late. Because a lot of times I had the ball and … people were just looking at me. … But we just didn't make shots down at the end of this" or make stops.""
Both Lawson and Wayne Ellington used the word ""selfish"" of the team's play" and UNC had only five assists while turning the ball over 15 times.
But in the past Lawson — who sat at his locker in full uniform with a blank stare for several seconds after answering questions — has been able to drag UNC to the finish line.
Saturday even he came up short.
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