Tech sends chill through Terps 1-for-20 stretch helps end 7-game win streak, 85-75

January 06, 1993|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- There was talk of beating the 10th-ranke college basketball team in the country and of going into the Top 25 themselves. There was talk of starting the Atlantic Coast Conference season with a jolt against Georgia Tech.

But the University of Maryland fell squarely on its aspirations last night before a sellout crowd of 14,500 at Cole Field House. Despite two spirited second-half comebacks, the Terrapins couldn't overcome poor shooting from both the field and foul line in an 85-75 loss to the Yellow Jackets.

The defeat broke a seven-game winning streak for the Terrapins (8-2, 0-1 in the ACC), who now must play their next two games on the road against nationally ranked teams, North Carolina and Florida State. It was the seventh straight win for Georgia Tech (8-1, 1-0), which will be visited by top-ranked Duke Sunday.

"We didn't shoot the ball tonight, whether it was more Tech's zone or us, I don't know," said Maryland coach Gary Williams, whose team shot worse from the free-throw line (33 percent on seven of 21) than from the field (31 of 86 for 36 percent). "I think the big thing was that Tech was more aggressive in the first half."

That aggressiveness led to a 17-point halftime lead for the

Yellow Jackets, who scored the last 10 points of the half as the Terps were missing their last 12 shots from the field and six straight free throws. Maryland missed seven of its first eight shots of the second half as Georgia Tech's lead grew to 21.

The Terps cut their deficit to nine, 57-48, but freshman guard Duane Simpkins missed a three-point shot and the Yellow Jackets gradually stretched their lead out to 19. Again, Maryland came back, pulling to within eight, 76-68, on a drive by freshman Mario Lucas with 2:20 to go. Lucas was fouled, but missed the free throw. It never got any closer for Maryland.

"We could never seem to get over the hump," said senior guard Kevin McLinton, who scored a team-high 15 points (along with freshman Johnny Rhodes) before coming out in the final two minutes with a sprained right wrist. "We dug our selves a hole and we couldn't get out. When you get down by that much to a good team, it's hard to come back."

The Yellow Jackets were supposedly not at full strength, with two starters ailing. Freshman guard Martice Moore sat out because of a strep throat and sophomore forward James Forrest, who beat Maryland here last year on a tip-in at the buzzer, reportedly had not practiced in three days because of a virus.

It didn't matter, because Georgia Tech still was too strong for Maryland. Best lit up the Terps from the outside for 25 points and the 6-foot-7, 255-pound Forrest bullied them inside for 20 points and 11 rebounds. Senior forward Malcolm Mackey had 17 points, and his 17 rebounds made him the Yellow Jackets' all-time leader.

"I was very concerned coming into this game," said Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins. "But I was very happy with the way our guys responded. We had our backs to the wall."

They didn't stay there very long. After Exree Hipp hit his first two shots, including a three-pointer, to give the Terps a 5-0 lead, Maryland's shots couldn't find the bottom of the net. They were banged around by the taller, broader Yellow Jackets.

Senior forward Evers Burns took a scary fall in the first half, landing with a crash on his lower back. Though Burns came out only briefly, and wouldn't blame his bruised tailbone for his five-of-21 shooting performance, he was obviously not the same player he had been most of this season.

"We just didn't play hard," said Burns, who finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds. "I think it was a little nervousness [for the freshmen], but you can't blame it on that. We can't blame anyone but ourselves.

Our shooting wasn't there, but if we can't do the intangibles, we're not going to win."

In the end, Maryland's poor shooting was a glaring statistic. Until he found his range late in the game, Rhodes wasn't even close to making his shots and finished six of 18 overall, three of 12 from three-point range. Hipp missed five of his next six shots after hitting his first two.

"We were shooting 70 percent from the line and to make seven of 21 in a conference game hurts," said Williams. "That doesn't explain why we didn't play better in the first half. We let our poor shooting influence the way we played defense and rebounded."

NOTES: Burns became the 26th player in Maryland history to score 1,000 points. . . . Freshman center Nemanja Petrovic, who has been suffering from shin splints, sat out his second straight game.

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