Maryland opens a fresh new era, trouncing UMBC Freshmen score 49 in 103-80 victory

December 02, 1992|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- This isn't supposed to be the way it works for major college basketball teams. The seniors are usually there to settle down the freshmen, especially in their first game.

The University of Maryland didn't get off and running in its 1992-93 debut against UMBC last night at Cole Field House. Off and stumbling would be more precise. That's when the freshmen jumped in. And, in Exree Hipp's case, we do mean jump.

Led by Hipp, who had one of the most impressive debuts in Maryland history, the Terrapins reversed an early 11-point deficit and quieted the Retrievers, 103-80. Hipp scored 21 points, which is believed to be the highest total ever by a freshman in his first game at Maryland.

Senior Evers Burns led Maryland with 24 points and 10 rebounds, but it was this highly touted freshman class who set the tone in what turned out to be an ugly, foul-plagued game. They finished with 49 points, 23 rebounds and nine assists collectively, and even played a couple of minutes together in the second half.

"I thought it was really interesting the way we started," said Maryland coach Gary Williams. "We were nervous and that was a great sign. We had two freshmen in there and they have nervous feelings just like anyone else. This was different than an exhibition, but we fought our way out."

With senior co-captains Kevin McLinton and Burns on the bench, and four freshmen on the floor, Maryland turned its early 17-6 deficit into a 29-21 lead. The lead grew to 14 points, 45-31, by halftime.

During the 23-4 run that turned things around for the Terps, and woke up a crowd of 10,137, the freshmen accounted for 16 points. Burns and Chris Kerwin (12 points, nine rebounds) took over late in the first half, and Maryland's pressure defense did the rest.

"We were too anxious," said freshman guard Johnny Rhodes, who overcame a shaky start to finish with 16 points, four rebounds and four steals. "We weren't running our offense. But once we settled down, the shots started coming easier."

Said McLinton, "We're happy with the win, but we can't start the way we did tonight and expect to be successful."

The opposite is true for UMBC. The first 5 1/2 minutes were pure fantasy for the Retrievers. But after hitting six of their first 11 shots, including their first three three-pointers, UMBC went nearly nine minutes without a field goal.

The dream quickly became a nightmare. After cutting the deficit back to single digits early in the second half on five quick points by Dana Harris, things fell apart again after the senior guard pulled up with a sprained ankle with 14:50 to go.

"If we worked hard for 40 minutes, the game could be close and we have a chance to win," said UMBC coach Earl Hawkins. "But we didn't. The main problem is that we were not moving in our halfcourt offense."

Was Hawkins thinking about a big upset when UMBC jumped out to its early lead?

"I'm thinking we need to run our halfcourt offense better," said Hawkins. "I knew that we weren't going to do that [shoot three-pointers] for 40 minutes."

As things turned out, the only thing both teams shot for 40 minutes were free throws. UMBC ended up making 28 of 36 and Maryland was 27 of 33.

The most obvious difference about this year's freshmen are their athleticism, especially Hipp. He had several big-time moves, including one rim-shaking, head-shaking dunk in the second half. He caught the ball about 10 feet out on the wing and sailed in for the slam.

"A game like this helps my confidence," said the 6-foot-7 Hipp, who struggled during the preseason. "Knowing that I can play like that, coming out in front of a big crowd like this. It was a lot of fun."

Said Williams, "He is not going to get 21 every night. Obviously he showed that potential. He's as quick as anyone going to the basket. It's great that he started this way, but I don't expect it every night."

NOTES: Sonique Nixon had 13 points, 10 rebounds and six blocked shots for the Retrievers. Freshman Felton Scott had nine points for UMBC.

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