SPOKANE, Wash. (AP)—Jordan Williams picked a good time to break out of his recent slump.
The freshman forward set career highs with 21 points and 17 rebounds, and Maryland beat Houston 89-77 in the first round of the NCAA tournament’s Midwest Regional on Friday night.
Williams, held to seven points in each of his past two games, carried the fourth-seeded Terrapins (24-8) into Sunday’s second-round game against fifth-seeded Michigan State (25-8), a 70-67 winner over New Mexico State.
Greivis Vasquez, the ACC player of the year, said Maryland’s plan was to go to Williams, his roommate.
“That was the game plan—inside out,” Vasquez said. “He’s only a freshman. In two, three years, he’s going to be GOOD.”
Williams was pretty good Friday night, shooting 9 of 14 from the field and adding a blocked shot. Landon Milbourne scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Vasquez had just four points in the first half, but finished with 16 on 5-of-13 shooting. He added seven rebounds and six assists.
Williams said he benefited from a team effort.
“I think my teammates did a good job of getting me the ball and Greivis is a good player, so he draws a lot of attention from the other team,” he said.
Aubrey Coleman, the nation’s leading scorer, had 26 points for 13th-seeded Houston (19-16). The senior averaged 25.6 points per game this season.
“I think I played great,” he said. “I think it was free throws and a couple of calls that they got and that’s the game.”
Kelvin Lewis added 24 points for Houston, 17 in the second half. Coleman was held to 10 after halftime and went 11 minutes without scoring.
“We just tried to slow him up a little bit, try not to let him penetrate as much,” Maryland’s Sean Mosley said. “He was getting into the lane too easily.”
Maryland overpowered the Cougars 50-29 on the boards and held them to 41 percent shooting while winning its 10th consecutive first-round game.
“Before every game my goal is to try to get every rebound,” Williams said. “I know I’m not going to do that, but just to put that mindset in your head it helps out a lot.”
Houston also was hurt by 20-of-32 shooting from the free throw line.
The Terrapins made 21 of 25 free throws, which helped keep Houston from making a run in the second half.
Maryland has been to the NCAA tournament eight times since the turn of the century. This was Houston’s first appearance since 1992, but the Cougars were upbeat after their surprising postseason run ended.
They qualified by winning four games in the Conference USA tournament and beating top-seeded UTEP in the final. It was their longest winning streak of the season.
“We made history,” Coleman said. “There is going to be a banner with our name on it. And we got the University of Houston back on the map.”
Maryland led 43-42 early in the second half. Then the Terrapins went on a 12-2 run, capped by Adrian Bowie’s 3-pointer, for a 55-44 lead with 16:45 left.
Lewis replied with five straight points for Houston to close the gap to six. But Maryland worked the lead back to double digits, mostly at the free throw line.
After Zamal Nixon’s free throw brought Houston within 72-63, Williams’ layup pushed the lead back to double figures with 6:49 remaining.
Houston would not go away. Adam Brown’s 3-pointer and three free throws by Lewis cut Maryland’s lead to 78-69 with 5 minutes left. But that margin held.
“At the last minutes of the game, everyone was dead tired,” Brown said. “Nothing was left in the tank.”
In the first, Houston held a 24-22 lead despite making just eight of its first 25 shots. Coleman had 11 of those points.
Maryland pulled ahead 27-25 on Bowie’s 3-pointer. Williams put back a couple of missed shots as Maryland built a 35-29 lead with 2:27 left before halftime. Williams had 10 points and 10 rebounds in the first half.
Maryland was leading 39-31 with a minute left when Lewis sank a long 3-pointer. After the Terrapins missed, Houston rebounded with a few seconds left and Brown hit a long, running 3 at the buzzer to cut it to 39-37 at halftime.
“It was like a prayer and somebody answered,” Brown said.
Maryland shared the ACC regular-season title with Duke, but lost to Georgia Tech early in the conference tournament. The Terrapins drew an at-large bid to make their 17th consecutive postseason appearance.
In an odd twist, Maryland coach Gary Williams and Houston coach Tom Penders both entered with 648 career victories, tied for fifth among active coaches.
Penders, in his 36th season, was taking a team to the NCAA tournament for the first time since he coached George Washington in 1999. This was his 11th NCAA appearance.
It was the first time the teams met since the 1983 NCAA tournament during Houston’s Phi Slama Jama heyday.