With the Terrapins hosting the Big Ten Tournament in Washington, D.C., this weekend, we thought we’d take a trip down memory lane to the last time the Terps won their conference tournament: 2004.
Maryland, led by guards D.J. Strawberry and John Gilchrist, struggled for much of the season and finished with a 7-9 record within the ACC, good enough for only the No. 6 seed.
Their path through the tournament required that they defeat the conference’s three best teams: No. 17 NC State, No. 15 Wake Forest, and rival No.5 Duke. Over the course of the 2003-04 season the Terps were a combined 0-5 against those teams.
In addition, the tournament was held in Greensboro, North Carolina, essentially home games for all three of those teams.
So, while many experts didn’t expect the Terps to win, Coach Gary Williams’ squad believed in themselves.
They narrowly defeated the No. 15 Demon Deacons by one point in the first game before overcoming a 19-point deficit against the No. 17 Wolfpack to win the very next day behind a career-high 30 points from Gilchrist.
That Sunday the Terps faced No. 5 Duke, a team they had already lost to twice that season. The two teams battled intensely, and, after a tied score in regulation, they headed into overtime for the right to an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
The Terps outscored Duke 18-10 in the extra session and ended the Blue Devils’ quest for a fifth consecutive tournament title. Gilchrist notched 26 points, earning him tournament MVP honors and giving the program their first conference tournament title since 1984, when they were led by coach Lefty Driesell and forward Len Bias.
While the fans who made the trip to Greensboro chanted “Gary! Gary!” as he cut down the nets, students in College Park once again took to the streets in ecstasy.
After the victory, the Terps entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 4 seed. They would beat Texas El-Paso in the first round before falling to Syracuse in their next game.
The Diamondback is the university’s primary student newspaper, and its coverage of campus events provides an invaluable perspective on the university’s history. Thanks to generous donations and a successful Launch UMD campaign, the University Archives is digitizing the entire run of the newspaper, which is currently available on microfilm in the University Archives and McKeldin Library. This post is the part of a series based on information collected during the Diamondback Digitization Project. Check out the Twitter hashtag #digiDBK or the DigiDBK tag on our Terrapin Tales blog for previous posts. Look out for more DigiDBK posts from our team throughout the coming months!