Terps reserve win over Tigers Subs eat up deficit in 78-68 comeback

December 24, 1992|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- The message was sent from Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams to his bench nearly two weeks ago, after he had used his starters for nearly the entire second half of a 17-point victory over La Salle.

Start playing harder, or start watching more.

The message apparently got through before last night's 78-68 victory against Towson State. With senior forward Evers Burns in foul trouble early in the second half and starters Exree Hipp and Johnny Rhodes in a freshman funk, the bench brought the Terps back from the brink.

The inspired effort by their reserves, as well as the leadership by senior guard Kevin McLinton, lifted the Terps from a five-point deficit with a little more than 14 minutes to go at Cole Field House. It was the fourth straight victory for Maryland (5-1) and the fourth straight defeat for Towson State (1-4). Neither deserved their fate.

Even after the Terps went ahead by as many as 11, 70-59, late in the game, the Tigers never gave up. They cut their deficit to 72-65 with 2:35 to play, but could get no closer as Devin Boyd and John James both fouled out. Burns and McLinton each scored 16 for Maryland -- McLinton had 15 in the second half -- and Terrance "Scooter" Alexander led all scorers with 20.

The Tigers made it obvious from the start that they were going to make it a game. They hit their shots. They hit the boards at both ends of the floor. They even hit a Terp occasionally.

Towson State coach Terry Truax also showed that he wasn't going to let an all-ACC officiating crew show any favoritism. Truax was on the refs from the outset and got hit himself -- with a technical, less than two minutes into the game.

While both teams were coming off an equally long layoff, Maryland appeared a bit more rusty. Its first three possessions resulted in air balls by Burns and Rhodes. In the meantime, the Terps had trouble stopping Alexander.

The result was an early 12-7 lead for Towson State, with half of the Tigers' points coming from Alexander. The Terps, Burns in particular, finally woke up midway through the first half. Led by Burns and reserve forward Mario Lucas, Maryland took control.

Three straight turnarounds by Lucas, a 6-9 freshman from Memphis, gave the Terps a 33-24 lead with 4:36 left in the half. But the Tigers came back behind freshman center John James, cut their deficit to three and trailed at the half, 38-34.

Towson State's backcourt of Alexander (10 points) and Devin Boyd (eight) outscored Maryland's in the first half, 18-7. Burns and Hipp each scored 10 points in the half for Maryland. Where the Tigers really hurt the Terps was on the boards, holding a 24-13 edge, including 13-3 on the offensive glass.

Things started to fall apart for Maryland early in the second half. Burns picked up his third and fourth fouls less than a minute

apart, and took a seat on the bench with 17:26 to go.

Towson State took advantage, and took the lead. A 14-5 run by the Tigers, which included a technical on Williams, put them ahead by five, 48-43, with 14:05 to go.

With a chance to put his team ahead by seven, Quintin Moody missed a 17-footer for Towson State. With three starters on the bench -- Burns, Hipp and Rhodes -- Maryland made its comeback.

NB While little-used sophomores Wayne Bristol and John Walsh trig

gered things defensively, McLinton was the catalyst at both ends. During a 21-7 run that started out with 12 straight Maryland points, McLinton scored three baskets, passed off for another and forced a couple of turnovers.

A three-point play by reserve forward Kurtis Shultz gave the Terps a 64-55 lead with 7:12 to play. Shortly thereafter, Burns returned.

The Tigers, meanwhile, completely fell apart. They missed easy shots, and forced others. They collapsed under the heat of Maryland's defense. And they kept missing free throws.

NOTES: It was announced yesterday that sophomore guard Alan Rainge, who had played sparingly since coming to Maryland, has left school in hopes of transferring to a school closer to his home in Pontiac, Mich. Rainge, who played a total of nine minutes in four games, told his former teammates that he hoped to transfer to Eastern Michigan.

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