Terps regroup to top La Salle Burns, second half spark 93-76 win

December 13, 1992|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- If part of the maturation of any young VTC college basketball team is winning on the road, then the University of Maryland took an important step in the process against La Salle last night at the Philadelphia Civic Center.

After losing nearly all of an early 15-point lead by halftime, the Terps showed the patience and persistence they lacked the week before at West Virginia. Led again by senior Evers Burns, Maryland built its lead to 24 points in the second half and won, 93-76.

Displaying an uncanny shooting touch, Burns bettered his career high for the second time in five games this season. The 6-foot-7, 250-pound forward from Woodlawn scored 29 points on 13 of 19 shooting, to go along with 10 rebounds. Freshman forward Exree Hipp had 19 points and eight rebounds for Maryland (4-1). Sophomore guard Kareem Townes led La Salle (2-2) with 23.

"We were more confident coming in than we were going into West Virginia," said Maryland coach Gary Williams, whose team won its third straight in a stretch of six days. "We had played a few more games. It's still tough to get that first road win. I thought we did a good job at halftime recovering from that run they made at us. The way they shoot three-pointers, three possessions is a nine-point swing."

A barrage of three-pointers in the last 5:45 of the first half by Townes and sophomore guard Paul Burke cut Maryland's lead from 38-23 to 42-38 by halftime. After seeing the lead trimmed to 44-42, on a drive by Burke early in the second half, the Terps picked up their defensive pressure as well as taking better shots themselves.

While the Explorers were committing five straight turnovers -- they finished with 21 -- Maryland hit seven straight shots and went on a 34-14 run to break open the game. One of the biggest differences was the play of senior point guard Kevin McLinton, who scored 14 second-half points after missing all five shots he took in the first half.

"We played with more intensity," said Burns, who is averaging nearly 24 points a game while shooting better than 58 percent from the field. "The difference tonight from West Virginia is that we played to win. We didn't play not to lose."

Said Williams: "I thought we came out more aggressive. We shot two free throws in the first half, and we needed to do a better job going to the glass. I think Evers is a senior. He knows what he has to do. The jump shot is fine, but the heart and soul of the game is going to the glass."

La Salle also cooled off considerably from the outside. After making eight of 14 three-pointers in the first half, the Explorers hit only four of 23 in the second half. The Terps, meanwhile, heated up, hitting 20 of 32 overall after halftime.

And, after McLinton picked up his third foul trying to stop Townes, freshman guard Johnny Rhodes put the clamps on La Salle's streaky shooter. Rhodes, who gained his reputation in high school and prep school for offensive wizardry, has quickly proven to be just as good a defensive player.

"Evers did a good job, but give Johnny Rhodes some credit," Williams said of a player who finished the night with 11 points, seven assists, six rebounds, two steals and one block on an attempted dunk by 6-7 Luteke Kalombo. "He's as advanced as any freshman I've had in his knowledge of the game."

It all proved a little too much for La Salle, which is rebuilding after losing four starters from last year's NCAA tournament team. After an embarrassing 27-point defeat to city rival Penn Tuesday night, the Explorers were coming off a nationally-televised upset of James Madison Thursday night. But the second half brought them back to earth.

"I think they're a very good team," said La Salle coach Speedy Morris. "We're not a very good team."

Williams is not ready to jump on his own team's bandwagon after its first victory away from home. He is also more than a little anxious about the long break for exams, considering how poorly Maryland played last year after a similar hiatus.

"The jury," he said, "is still out."

But the maturation process took a rather important step last night.

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