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Manhattan Bounces Maryland From NIT

March 18, 2006

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) _ Maryland never really wanted to be part of the National Invitation Tournament. Following a listless performance against Manhattan, the top-seeded Terrapins won’t have to play anymore.

Jeff Xavier scored a career-high 31 points, Jason Wingate added 21, and Manhattan bounced Maryland from the NIT with an 87-84 victory Saturday.

The Jaspers (20-10) led by 14 with 13 minutes left, then had four players foul out. But Manhattan overcame that _ and some shoddy free throw shooting _ to end Maryland’s 29-game non-conference home winning streak.

Wingate missed the front end of three straight one-and-one opportunities down the stretch before seldom-used sophomore Franck Traore sank two free throws with 32 seconds left to make it 84-79.

Manhattan, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular-season champions, will next face Old Dominion on Monday night. The Jaspers opened the NIT with an 80-77 win over Fairleigh Dickinson, a team Maryland beat by 26 points in November.

Disappointed over being left out of the NCAA tournament, the Terrapins (19-13) initially declined the NIT bid late Sunday night. But coach Gary Williams reversed the decision after speaking with NIT committee chairman C.M. Newton.

Following an opening-round bye, the Terrapins displayed their indifference in the first half Saturday, when Xavier scored 18 points to stake the Jaspers to a 47-37 lead. It was the most points yielded by Maryland in the first half this season.

Travis Garrison scored 21 points in his final game with Maryland and senior Nik Caner-Medley added 16 on 6-for-16 shooting. Maryland had 20 turnovers and was 3-for-13 from 3-point range.

Xavier went 12-for-24 from the field, made four 3-pointers and sank all three of his foul shots in topping his previous career high of 25 points.

The Terrapins opened the second half with a 6-0 run to close to 47-43 before Xavier scored eight points in a 14-4 surge that made it 61-47.

It was 75-65 before a 3-pointer by Mike Jones and a layup by Caner-Medley got the Terrapins within five points with 5:42 to go. Xavier followed with a three-point play to ignite a 7-0 run that gave the Jaspers enough breathing room to weather Maryland’s last comeback bid.

Playing in a half-filled arena, the Terrapins appeared lethargic at the outset. They missed their first four shots, then built a 12-8 lead before Wingate scored seven points in a 17-3 spurt that put Manhattan up by 10.

With 9 minutes gone, Maryland had seven turnovers and six baskets.

Manhattan led 32-30 before Caner-Medley received a foul and a technical foul _ his third personal _ on top of it. Wingate made the two technical free throws, and Xavier added two foul shots to end a 9-0 run.

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