COLLEGE PARK -- Call it the new math, if you will, but Maryland center Cedric Lewis figures that a blocked shot is just as important as making a basket yourself.
"I figure if I can stop the other team from scoring, that's almost like my scoring a basket," said Lewis. "If I take 20 points away from them, that's like me scoring 20."
Convoluted logic? Perhaps. But Lewis certainly made believers of Towson State last night, as he imposed himself on the Tigers' offense, boosting the Terps to a season-opening 93-69 win.
Lewis, a 6-foot-9, 229-pound senior, blocked a career-high seven shots and altered countless others, anchoring the Maryland defense, and pestering the Towson offense.
"We've been capable of equal guard play with our opponents," said Towson coach Terry Truax, a Maryland alumnus whose Tigers lost to Dayton in their opener. "The difference has been the inside play. We don't have a guy like Cedric Lewis, a guy who did change our shots."
But Maryland does and his presence allows for a lot of freedom.
"He allows you to gamble on defense," said guard Matt Roe. "All week, the coaches had been stressing to not let them [Towson] shoot from the outside.
"So, we could challenge them out on the perimeter and if they got free, Cedric was right there to fill the gap."
"He'll lead the country in blocks if he keeps doing that," coach Gary Williams said of Lewis, who was third in the ACC in blocks last season.
One brief, but sublime, exchange during the surprisingly easy win showed how valuable Lewis can be on the defensive and offensive ends.
With a little over 12 minutes left in the first half, Maryland guard Walt Williams (20 points, eight assists) pressured Towson into a missed layup after a Tigers steal. When Towson retrieved the loose ball and attempted a follow shot, Lewis swatted the ball toward Williams.
Williams then found Roe on the left wing and the 6-6 transfer from Syracuse calmly let a three-point attempt fly that found the bottom of the net before Roe was knocked into the Towson bench.
In that case, Lewis' hypothetical two points turned into four, as Roe, who had 18 points in his first game in a year, hit the resulting free throw.
Lewis, the school's third leading all-time shot blocker with nearly 100, has made a career of that sort of thing, swatting shots and making opponents contort themselves to avoid his swipes.
But don't ask him how he does it.
"It's just something that I do," said Lewis. "My brother used to do it to me all the time."
His brother, Derrick, is Maryland's all-time rejector, and his name is almost always invoked whenever Cedric's blocks are discussed.
Cedric's offensive development has been a steady subject of conversation in his three years at Maryland.
After all, he has half as many blocks (96) as he does points (201) for his college career.
And while Gary Williams will certainly take the points if he can get them, he doesn't mind the blocks either.
"I don't ask each player to play in ways they're not comfortable," said Williams. "If he can just be somebody who doesn't allow the other team to score, then he'll help us."
"I'm not going to change my game," said Lewis, who pulled down 13 rebounds along with seven points. "With Evers and Garfield scoring the way they were, I didn't need to score."
Junior college transfer Garfield Smith and sophomore Evers Burns combined for 25 points on 11-for-17 shooting.
"It's not that our offense is Matt Roe and Walt Williams-oriented," said Burns. "We'd like to get the ball inside and do things traditionally."
Of course, that would have been easier with low post threat Jerrod Mustaf, who passed up his last two years of eligibility for the NBA.
But the Terps might not miss Mustaf, who took a short break from the New York Knicks to attend last night's season opener, if they play the kind of defense they unveiled in the first half.
The Tigers, who got 22 points from junior guard Devin Boyd and 16 from reserve Terrance Jacobs, scored just 15 points in the opening half, shooting just 18 percent. During one sequence, Towson, which lost four starters from its NCAA tournament team, mustered just two baskets in 26 possessions, misfiring on eight and then seven straight possessions.
"I just really didn't feel as if we competed and played hard the first half," said Truax.
Of course, Lewis' imposing presence could have had something to do with that, too.
The 18th-ranked Maryland women's basketball team drubbed Loyola 84-51 in the preliminary game to run its record to 2-0.
Freshman reserve center Bonnie Rimkus led five Terps in double figures with 14 points in 13 minutes before leaving with a slight groin pull in the second half. Jennifer Young paced the Greyhounds (0-1) with 12 points.