WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – D.C.-area basketball fans will remember Drew Nicholas as the point guard that hit a backbreaking buzzer beater to send Maryland to the Round of 32 in 2003, but fellow Terrapins remember him as the player who kept Maryland relevant in the down year following their National Championship run.
Maryland – a six-seed that year – trailed no. 11-UNC-Wilmington by one with just five seconds to play in the opening round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament.
An upset was looming.
Nicholas took the inbound pass, raced with the ball to the wing, then threw up a well-defended prayer as his body carried him to the sideline.
Nicholas just kept running.
His team celebrated, and would later go on to defeat three-seeded Xavier before falling to Michigan State in the Sweet Sixteen.
“With the 2002 National Championship team, we were an experienced team,” Nicholas told 106.7 The Fan’s Holden and Danny Wednesday. “We had guys like Juan, Lonny even Byron Mouton. Coming off the year before, us getting to the national Semi-Final and losing to Duke after we were up 22, left a real bad taste in our mouths.”
Following the championship, Nicholas and Blake were left as the elder statesmen on a Terrapins squad that was struggling through an identity crisis. It’s been ten years since he made that shot to bury UNC-Wilmington and establish that team as a worthy footnote in the history book of the school’s rich basketball tradition.
“Our 2003 was more; we just wanted to prove ourselves,” Nicholas said. “Everybody thought that we weren’t going to be that good because we lost all those guys. We only had me, Steve Blake, Tahj Holden coming back so we were hungry in the sense of; we wanted to show people that ‘hey, even though those guys left, we were still a very good basketball team’.”
By the way, Nicholas explained why he kept running toward the locker room after sinking that ridiculous shot.
“I was gone. I wasn’t waiting,” he said. “The refs weren’t going to tell me that it wasn’t good.”
Find out what Drew Nicholas has been up to the last decade, and why he felt the need to brag about leading the Washington Post’s bracket contest here…
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