Williams, Terps foul up in loss to Rutgers, 95-79 Guard is first of 4 to foul out in Ariz.

December 29, 1991|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Correspondent

TUCSON, Ariz. -- It took just two flicks of the wrist by Walt Williams in a 47-second span last night against Rutgers to reduce the Maryland Terrapins from a tournament threat in the Fiesta Bowl Classic to a berth in tomorrow night's consolation game.

Those flicks were Williams' third and fourth fouls in the opening minutes of the second half. The foul-riddled Terrapins were never able to recover in losing to the Scarlet Knights, 95-79, in the tournament's opening game at the McKale Center.

Rutgers (5-1) moved into tomorrow's championship game against Arizona (6-1), which beat Evansville, 83-76. Maryland (7-2) will play in the third-place game against the Aces (6-3).

Williams was one of four Maryland players to foul out of the game, breaking a tournament record for disqualifications, set last year by Pepperdine against Arizona. The 33 fouls by the Terrapins also established a tournament record, breaking the mark of 30 by Duke in a 1987 game against Arizona.

"I'm not going to comment on the officiating," said Maryland coach Gary Williams who, in his silence, appeared obviously upset with the way the calls went. "We have to play here again on Monday night."

Foul trouble wasn't Maryland's only problem. The Terrapins were unable to hit their free throws, making 15 of 25, and were unable to control the surprising three-point shooting by Rutgers. A 26.5-percent shooting team from beyond the arc going in, the Scarlet Knights connected on 53.3 percent of their shots (eight of 15) last night.

The three-point barrage was led by guard Mark Redden, who was 5-for-9 on three-pointers and set a career high with 20 points. Alvin Rich also had a career-high 21 points, and Daryl Smith added 20 points for Rutgers. The five three-pointers by Redden, who had hit just one of 17 three-point attempts going into the game, tied a tournament record.

"Redden has been shooting well in practice, but his shots just hadn't been falling," said Rutgers coach Bob Wenzel. "He's a good shooter, and maybe this will help him with his confidence."

Walt Williams wasn't on the court long enough (24 minutes) to build up any confidence. When Williams picked up his fourth foul after a light reach-in on Rutgers' Smith, there was 16:05 left in the game and Maryland trailed by just 50-46. For the next few minutes the Terrapins played inspired ball and were down, 53-51, with the ball and a chance to tie.

But Garfield Smith (three of 11, season-low seven points) missed a dunk that would have tied the game and Rutgers went on a 15-5 run to take a 68-56 lead that all but put the game away. Williams returned with 9:52 left and even hit a three-pointer that got the Terrapins within 70-61. But he picked up his fifth and final foul with 8:02 left on another questionable call. With Williams on the bench for good, and with Smith, Vince Broadnax and Kevin McLinton soon to follow, the Terrapins never threatened.

"It was frustrating sitting on the bench and not being able to do anything," said Williams, whose 12 points were a season low and well below his 23.8-point scoring average going into the game. "I'm not going to comment on the officiating. We do play an uptempo game, and I guess some of the fouls couldn't be avoided."

It was a far cry from his last game against Rutgers a year ago in the opening game of the ECAC Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden when he scored 30 points and had seven assists in Maryland's 86-81 win. He went on to win the MVP award in that tournament. With that eye-opening performance, and his play since then, nine NBA scouts were eager to see how he would play against the sixth-ranked Arizona Wildcats -- a game that now won't be played.

"I'd like to apologize to the NBA people here looking at Walt," Wenzel said. "But this was a big game for us. We accomplished a lot with this win."

Gary Williams, whose team led, 12-4, in the early going, would like to forget about the loss, which broke a two-game winning streak and put a damper on what had been Maryland's best start since the 1984-85 season. He watched in disgust as his team committed 25 turnovers against Rutgers' pressure defense.

"I thought they did a good job pressing us," Williams said. "They attacked us and since we're not in a position where we can play a lot of people, it hurt when our guys got in foul trouble."

And it especially hurts when your best player is one of those people, as Walt Williams was turned into an assistant coach for much of the game.

"I didn't like [sitting]," Williams said. "But we have to give them some credit -- they played well. They did a good job shooting their three-pointers, and that hurt."

NOTES: Evers Burns had 22 points, and Matt Downing 15, to lead Maryland. . . . The Fiesta Bowl Classic has not been the best of tournaments for Gary Williams. In 1985 Williams brought his Boston College team in and took them to the championship game against Arizona. Unhappy with the officiating in his team's loss, Williams received 2 technicals and was ejected -- the only ejection of a coach in the tournament's 7-year history . . . Arizona took a 66-game home winning streak into last night's game against Evansville. The Wildcats have won every Fiesta Bowl Classic.

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