Bowie steals the show, Terps beat Wake

Under Adrian Bowie's left eye are a few stitches that sew together a nasty cut, the result of a Greivis Vasquez elbow in practice not long ago. He wears it well, and after last night's performance, it seems so appropriate.

Bowie, a hardnosed combo guard, would rather weave his way to the basket for a tough lay-up instead of the outside shot, usually drawing contact at some point. He's right on top of his man on defense, vulnerable to the occasional flailing elbow. He even collided with Testudo last night chasing down a loose ball out of bounds.

He had 10 points in Maryland's 71-64 win over Wake Forest Tuesday, his second straight game in double figures. But the highlight of his night was three steals in 51 seconds in the second half, igniting a Maryland run that would ultimately seal the game and prompting the near-capacity Comcast Center crowd to chant, "Bowie, Bowie, Bowie!"

"I just wanted to look good for everybody out there," said Bowie, whose father is an athletic department employee and older brother is a student at Maryland. "And let everybody know I can play at this level."

Until starting guard Eric Hayes was sidelined with an ankle injury last week, Bowie was the fourth guard and saw limited minutes. During a stretch earlier this year, he didn't play more than eight minutes a game in six straight games. Like any freshman who was the star of his high school team the year before, Bowie was frustrated by his spot on the bench.

"I've never really sat on the bench that much in my life so having that happen to me was hard," he said.

Bowie was pushing a little too hard and making mistakes, coach Gary Williams said. In Hayes' absence recently, Bowie has been forced into an increased ball-handling role, especially last night. A point guard by nature is relaxed and composed, and those are traits that Bowie has tried to take on recently.

Bowie played point guard for the first time at Montrose Christian last year. Last night he filled in for Vasquez at that spot for some time in the second half, which Williams said was in an effort to take some pressure off of Vasquez. In 32 minutes of play, Bowie committed just two turnovers.

"I thought he was pretty sharp out there," Williams said. "I kept telling him since practice started that he has physical ability that he's got to use. Whatever your talent is you got to put it out there all the time. I think Adrian was really tentative for a while, now it seems like he's just letting it go."

Bowie credited his composure to increased playing time—it's difficult to get into a rhythm sitting on the bench. Also, some of the pressure to impress while on the court has subsided as he's continued to play well. He doesn't have to look over his shoulder at the scorer's table to see if somebody else is about to replace him.

"I didn't want to make mistakes so I would have to come out of the game," Bowie said. "So I was pretty nervous on what do you. I didn't want to do anything wrong and then come right out."

Said Williams: "He thought he should play perfect when he came here. I told him nobody has yet. He seems to be relaxing a bit. He wants to be good. You can't be a very good player without have that tremendous drive to be good and I think he did but it was hurting him a little because he thought that if he made a mistake that he was really a good player. What Adrian's doing right now, if he does make a mistake on offense, he usually does something great on defense."

As reporters entered the locker room after the game, Bowie's teammates made sure he was the man to interview. It's the best he's felt since almost two years ago with Montrose Christian when he hit the game-winning shot as time expired to hand Oak Hill its only loss in 41 games that season.

Hayes is expected to be a game-time decision against North Carolina Saturday, so Bowie will be looked upon to step up again. And just like that game against Oak Hill, he'll defend Tywon Lawson, North Carolina's starting point guard.

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