Terps again aren't up to challenge of Big East

December 04, 1990|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Evening Sun Staff

RICHMOND, Va. -- Hasn't this story been told before?

The Maryland Terrapins meet a scrappy, undersized team in their game in the ACC-Big East Challenge as the eighth seed, and watch said undersized and scrappy team take them apart by means of pressure on the guards and relentless three-point shooting.

No, this isn't a flashback to last year's debacle against the Connecticut Huskies, but last night's 100-85 loss to Boston College certainly was an unhappy trip down Memory Lane for Maryland.

In contrast to last December's 87-65 drubbing by the Huskies, the Terps (2-2) were actually in this contest, and had a lead with as few as eight minutes left.

But the Eagles (5-1) eventually caught and buried Maryland by forcing turnovers and nailing outside jumpers and foul shots to hand the Terps their second straight embarrassing loss of the Challenge series.

"We have to go back to the basics," said guard Matt Roe.

Truer words perhaps were never spoken. For the second straight game, Maryland proved itself unable to protect or handle the ball against pressure defenses.

And if BC pressure looks ferocious in December, imagine what the intensity of the Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State attacks will be in January and February.

"We just have to figure out a way not to turn over the ball," said coach Gary Williams. "We need somebody to handle the ball."

The man who has been designated to do that, junior Walt Williams, bounced back from a seven-point performance against West Virginia Saturday to connect for 30 points and seven assists last night.

In one dazzling four-minute burst at the start of the second half, Williams scored 12 points in a 17-8 Maryland run that turned a 43-43 tie into a 60-51 lead with 15 minutes left.

But, after calling a timeout to stop the run, Boston College burst out to score seven points in 1:30. The dam had burst and the Terps were unable to stem the flood, as they were outscored 37-17 in the last 10 minutes.

"It was just at times, it looked like we were running our offense and executing and at other times, we looked like we were playing street ball," said sophomore Evers Burns.

"We had that run where we got up, but then it was just as if the roof caved in," said sophomore Kevin McLinton. "It seems like we let up. When you get a good team like that on the ropes, you have to put them away."

The jury is out on whether BC is a good team or not. After all, they are the overwhelming favorite to finish at the bottom of the Big East.

But the Eagles did what good teams are supposed to do.

Namely, they pressured the Maryland guards, forcing 19 turnovers, and hit outside shots, with freshman guard Gerrod Abram scoring 30 points off the bench. He was 6-for-7 from three-point range, after hitting just three of 15 earlier this year.

"Gerrod comes in and his motor is going," said BC coach Jim O'Brien. "It doesn't take him a long time to get going."

Down the stretch when Maryland fouled to stop the clock, BC made the Terps pay, making 19 of 20 foul shots in the last eight minutes.

The news wasn't completely bad. For the fourth straight game, the Terps dominated the boards, outrebounding the Eagles 44-32.

And, despite the score, Gary Williams said he was pleased with Maryland's defensive intensity, especially considering that the Terps were playing their fourth game in eight days.

But, less than a week after a sparkling win over Southern California that seemed to serve notice that this year wouldn't be as long and desolate as it appeared, the Terps are seemingly back to square one.

The word is certainly out that to beat the Terps, you need only pressure them and force them into mistakes.

Gary Williams said he is considering using McLinton more at the point to ease Walt Williams' ballhandling chores.

But, all of a sudden, just like after Connecticut last year, the year seems long and the options seem short.

"We haven't had a chance to work on things," said Gary Williams. "We'll see what happens when we do."


Maryland's loss evened the Challenge series at 1-1, after Virginia beat Pittsburgh 84-80 on the strength of a 28-point, 12-rebound performance by Cavaliers junior forward Bryant Stith.

"He's really something," Virginia coach Jeff Jones said after Stith came back from a first-half ankle injury to rally the Cavaliers.

When Stith went down, Virginia went from four points ahead to four behind at halftime. But Stith took a few pain relievers, got his right ankle heavily taped and came back out for the second half.

In 19 minutes, Stith had 20 points, five rebounds, three steals and three blocks.

"I really thought I was out for the game because I really rolled it over bad," he said after the game, his ankle wrapped in ice.

"He made a miraculous recovery," Pittsburgh coach Paul Evans said. "I'd like to have a trainer like that."

In the only other game involving a ranked team last night, No. 15 Southern Mississippi clobbered Hawaii Loa 105-71.

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