COLLEGE PARK Md. — In the final moments of North Carolina's matchup at Maryland on Saturday UM guard Greivis Vasquez couldn't help smiling.
With the score tied at 81 and the clock ticking down to less than 90 seconds remaining in overtime Vasquez curled around to the left corner and fired.
Boom. Just like that the score was 84-81 and the roof blew off the Comcast Center.
That shot and the two free throws to ice the game with five seconds remaining served to answer the question Vasquez posed after scoring Maryland's first 16 points — can one player actually carry his team to beat the No. 3 team in the nation?
Sure almost every guard in the ACC has torched the Tar Heels. But none of the last 10 could bring home a victory.
Vasquez could. All it took was 35 points" 11 rebounds and 10 assists — a triple-double and only the third such performance in Maryland history.
""I've said all along he's a great player" Maryland coach Gary Williams said. And I know that gets debated" but he showed it tonight.""
In the first sequences of the game" Vasquez himself kept pace with UNC. When he took a seat with 12:43 to play in the first half" Vasquez and his 16 points were just two shy of the Tar Heels' 18.
""Before the game" I told Greivis we could win if he got the first 16" Williams joked after the game.
But Vasquez wasn't done in the first half. Three times in the second period, he carried Maryland back from deficits that no one is supposed to make up against North Carolina.
Down 16 with 15 minutes to play, it was Vasquez who sparked the rally with a layup and two assists, including a laser-guided pass to Cliff Tucker for a wide-open layup, finding Tucker again for a trey to bring the score to 64-62 UNC.
It was Vasquez's layup that tied the score at 76 and completed a furious comeback from nine points down in the last 1:54 of regulation.
And when UNC point guard Ty Lawson tried to once again to hit a game-winner at the buzzer, it was Vasquez stretching a hand out to block the shot and send the game into overtime.
We went back and forth. I was trying to go at him" and he was trying to go at me" Vasquez said. Don't get me wrong. He's quick and he's good. … It's a great matchup between us.""
As his encore" Vasquez either scored or assisted all but two of the Terrapins' points in overtime including the 3-ball that gave them the lead.
So it was with plenty of reason that Vasquez could be seen in the game's final moments in the midst of a 3-point shooting duel with Lawson" smiling as he directed Maryland's offense — a task he had requested before the game.
""I'm a true point guard" and this is my team and I should have the ball in my hands" Vasquez said. I told (assistant coach Robert) Ehsan I wanted to try and be the point guard just for big games.""
If he wasn't hitting a key 3-pointer or getting a layup himself"" Vasquez was setting up fellow guards Eric Hayes (17 points) or Tucker (22 points).
""He's a catalyst" Williams said of Vasquez. Greivis can make us play" and I like to see him with that emotion and getting into the game where he was that good.
""And that just rubbed off on the other players.""
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