N. Carolina finishes off Terps Down early, Heels awaken, 77-63

February 10, 1993|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- The University of Maryland basketball team teased the sellout crowd at Cole Field House last night. For the first seven minutes against sixth-ranked North Carolina, the Terrapins and 14,500 of their followers had invaded Blue Heaven.

They had an 11-point lead.

They had dreams of an upset.

But the Tar Heels woke up and put Maryland out of its fantasy. The result was a methodical, but hardly impressive, 77-63 victory for North Carolina (19-3, 8-2), which moved into sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The defeat, the fifth straight and ninth in the last 11 games for the last-place Terps, was collectively disappointing but had some individual performances that might bring the crowd back for Saturday's game against 10th-ranked Florida State.

It marks the first time that the Terps are at .500 since losing the second game of the season at West Virginia. The five-game losing streak is also the longest of the season for Maryland.

"I was pleased with our effort tonight," said Maryland coach Gary Williams. "Obviously we did not shoot the ball as well as we have to against the sixth-ranked team in the country. But I thought the young guys played really well."

Freshman forward Exree Hipp, who carried Maryland (10-10, 1-9 ACC) to its early lead, sparked the Terps with 16 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals. Freshman forward Mario Lucas also had some moments, scoring 10 points against the likes of George Lynch and Eric Montross.

Although Maryland's four freshmen shot a collective 17 of 33, its three seniors were four of 25 and the Terps were 22 of 62 overall. Forward Evers Burns, coming off an 18-of-28 shooting performance for a career-high 36 points against Georgia Tech, scored 10 points on three of 13 from the field. Point guard Kevin McLinton, the team's leading ACC scorer, had only four points and missed all seven field-goal attempts while playing on a badly bruised toe.

"I just think we feel bad about the loss, but did show some good things that we can build on for Florida State," said Hipp, who scored 11 of Maryland's first 19 and played well for the third straight game. "I think if we get them down like we did Carolina, we can keep them down."

Leading 17-6 on a rebound follow by Hipp with 13:03 left in the first half and later 19-10 on a baseline dunk by the 6-foot-7, 180-pound leaper, Maryland couldn't hold off the Tar Heels. With an 20-4 run to close out the half, North Carolina led 30-23 and never looked back.

But the Tar Heels couldn't quite blow away the Terps. Behind Montross (17 points, seven rebounds), Lynch (12 points, 12 rebounds) and junior point guard Derrick Phelps (11 points, eight rebounds), North Carolina built its lead to 18, 59-41, with 8:39 to go. Maryland never quit, and got it down to 11, 67-56, on a three- point shot by Johnny Rhodes (13 points) with 3:03 to play.

"We're delighted to come out of here with a win," said North Carolina coach Dean Smith, whose 759th career victory tied him for third with Western Kentucky coach Ed Diddle on the all-time Division I list. "I thought we played much better in the second half than in the first. I know Gary has to be disappointed."

Said Montross: "We figured they would come out hot the way they did. Hipp got slowed down eventually. We kept plodding along and we wore them down with our size. They played very well. Most games they would have won."

In most other leagues -- the Big East or the Big South, take your pick -- Maryland would have won more than one game. But the ACC, with four Top 10 teams for the first time since the 1980-81 season, is not your average basketball conference.

Asked about going from facing the No. 6 team to the No. 10 team, Williams said: "The good thing is you know you have to be prepared. I like that part. We'll be ready. It's better to play right away than to wait a week. We'll be ready to go."

So will another sellout crowd, dreaming of another upset.

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