Maryland sends State packing Terps roll, 76-55

N. Carolina next

March 12, 1993|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Duane Simpkins spent most of his freshman season at the University of Maryland buried on the bench, frustrated with his playing time, confused about his future.

But the highly touted point guard from DeMatha High picked an opportune moment -- the preliminary game of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament -- to show what all the hoopla was

about.

Simpkins, whose playing time has increased in recent weeks, came off the bench with a fervor last night. He scored 14 points and sparked the Terrapins to a 76-55 victory over North Carolina State before 17,978 at the Charlotte Coliseum.

The victory, the third straight over the Wolfpack this season, put Maryland (12-15) into today's quarterfinal (2:30 p.m., Ch. 45) against top-ranked, top-seeded North Carolina (26-3). It marks the second straight year the Terps won the prelim, only to meet the nation's best team. Last year, they lost to Duke in the quarterfinals.

"I thought after playing N. C. State twice, we would have to get the game up-tempo to win," said Maryland coach Gary Williams. "To our players' credit, we were willing to dig down and get after it for 40 minutes. That's what it was going to take."

After a sluggish start, it was Simpkins who got the Terps into the proper tempo. He got the running game started and got the ball into the right hands. He also got the ball into the basket, hitting three of four shots (two of three threes) and all six of his free throws in 21 minutes.

"That was his best game," said Williams. "Not just because he scored. He made a couple of decisions in our half-court offense that led to baskets."

Said Simpkins: "After the Virginia game, we saw that we did have a lot of success in pushing the ball up the floor. I thought that N. C. State couldn't get back particularly well, so I tried to run it down their throats."

If Simpkins provided the kind of leadership that Williams will expect from him next season, senior center Chris Kerwin provided a little inspiration. After spraining an ankle early in the second half, Kerwin helped the Terps go on an 18-2 run that produced a 54-40 lead.

Kerwin also had the most interesting basket of the game. The Wolfpack had cut the deficit to five before Evers Burns gave Maryland a 56-49 lead with a short jumper. On the Terps' next possession, Kerwin couldn't handle a pass inside from Burns. But the ball ricocheted off Kerwin's elbow and into the basket.

"It was our secret play, the one we've been working on in the small gym," said Burns. "It's the off-the-elbow, into-the-basket backbreaker."

Said N. C. State coach Les Robinson: "That was certainly demoralizing. It epitomized our season."

While the victory took some of the sting out of a disappointing regular season for Maryland, that play seemed to take the steam out the Wolfpack, who were outscored 22-6 over the last six minutes.

The defeat ended a nightmarish season for N. C. State (8-19), the worst since the 1966-67 Wolfpack finished 7-19.

It was as if Maryland's seniors willed their careers to continue. Burns finished with 17 points and eight rebounds, and Kerwin finished with 12 points. Kevin McLinton only scored eight, but held N. C. Stateguard Curtis Marshall to four points.

The Maryland freshmen also didn't want their first season to end. Aside from Simpkins, forward Exree Hipp had 11 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Shooting guard Johnny Rhodes was 2-for-10 from the field but he had a career-high 13 rebounds, seven assists and no turnovers in 33 minutes.

"I thought we played well as a team in spurts," said Hipp. "We played together."

Today, the Terps will have to play out of their minds in order to beat the Tar Heels. After getting blown out by 28 early in the season, Maryland lost, 77-63, in the rematch, a game that was competitive for about 30 minutes.

"You've got to look at it as a chance to beat the No. 1 team in the country," said Williams. "I think our players know what's involved."

Said Burns: "If we show any signs of being intimidated against North Carolina, they're like a pack of wolves."

And certainly not like the Wolfpack.

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