COLLEGE PARK -- No one, least of all coach Gary Williams, knew exactly what to expect of the new-look University of Maryland basketball team.
But, if the season opener is any indication, the Terrapins may not be as poorly stocked as the rest of the Atlantic Coast Conference thinks.
With barely a sweat, Maryland rolled past outmanned Towson State last night, 93-69, dominated the inside play and offered some hope for another winning season.
The Terrapins were never endangered by a Towson team that lost its debut, 99-79, at Dayton Saturday night, practiced in Ohio Sunday, then flew home.
"With four new starters, I really liked the way we came out," said Williams. "We forced them to take tough shots, didn't give them second shots and scored without Walt [Williams] getting going.
"A lot of people felt if Walt didn't get it done we'd be in trouble. I think this will make him feel well about the rest of the team."
Maryland's superiority inside was overwhelming to the Tigers, who had 10 shots blocked, seven by Cedric Lewis, and altered countless others.
Not until the second half, when Towson stepped up its defensive pressure, did the game resemble a serious contest.
"I think they became a little intimidated," said Lewis. "It got to the point where I didn't even have to jump and they were throwing up air balls."
Williams led Maryland with 20 points, but hit only seven of 15 from the floor. Matt Roe, his sidekick at guard, had 18 points in his first appearance after sitting out last season.
"It was definitely weird being in a game situation," said Roe. "So I did it for myself tonight. I think things will fall in place as the year goes on."
The Tigers were never closer than 19 behind in the second half after their early futility, but managed to outscore Maryland by five points in the last 20 minutes.
"We didn't execute in the first half and had a stretch of about five minutes when we didn't play hard either," said coach Terry Truax. "They were beating us to every loose ball, getting second shots.
"You're in trouble when you've got 12 points with three minutes to go in the half and you're hoping for 20. But we weren't as much down as we could have been.
"Still, digging that deep a hole against an ACC team on its homecourt is difficult to climb out of."
The Tigers (0-6 vs. Maryland) actually took an 8-5 lead at the start, but then were outscored, 24-1, a blitz that put away the game.
Lewis was swatting away or forcing Towson to change shot after shot and the Tigers finished the first half hitting 17.9 percent from the field.
"He'll lead the country in blocked shots if he keeps playing like that," said Gary Williams. Cedric's brother Derrick was No. 2 in the nation with 114 blocked shots as a junior in 1986-87.
"We need some help inside, no doubt about it. He is someone who doesn't allow them to get to the basket easily and I think his offense will come. It's the first time at Maryland he has been the man."
Lewis, not the world's greatest shooter, had 13 rebounds and said "my defense definitely makes up for my offense. But I feel the offense is there and as the game goes on, it'll wake up."
Williams, the 6-foot-8 point guard who provides matchup fits for the opposition, said he felt comfortable despite some pre-game nervousness.
"It was just one of those nights," he said. "When Matt Roe and me are off, other players have to step up and they did. I've been saying all along we have a lot of talent."
Truax thought Devin Boyd, Lewis Waller and Chuck Lightening, the team's most seasoned players, may have tried to do too much and imposed pressure on themselves.
"I don't think there's any reason they have to feel that," he said. "We didn't execute in the first half, and I think we were intimidated a little bit." Without Jerrod Mustaf and Tony Massenburg, the Terrapins were still too big and too physical for Towson, which is 0-14 against the Atlantic Coast Conference.
"I think our first three shots were three-pointers," said Truax. "That's not our strength. I guess we thought we were Dayton [which shot 31 three-pointers against Towson]."