Smith shoots Terrapins to third straight, 93-79

December 01, 1993|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- The University of Maryland basketball team kept knocking Rider College down last night, but the Broncs kept getting up. The little school from Lawrenceville, N.J., and the Northeast Conference seemed impervious to the fact that it was supposed to be early-season fodder for the Terrapins.

But each time Rider was able to make a decent run to make things interesting at Cole Field House, Joe Smith snuffed out the pesky Broncs by taking over at both ends of the court. It resulted in a 93-79 victory for Maryland (3-0) and another impressive performance by the team's freshman center.

After struggling with his shot for much of the first half, Smith started finding his range and the Terps began finding him. He scored Maryland's first eight points in the second half -- including two vicious dunks -- and helped the Terps build their lead from 13 at halftime to as many as 18. Rider (1-1) never got closer than 11.

Smith finished with career-high totals of 33 points -- 21 in the second half -- and 12 rebounds to go along with five blocked shots. The points by Smith were the most by a Maryland freshman, breaking the record of 29 by Adrian Branch in 1981-82. Smith has scored more points -- 72 -- than any other Terp after his first three games.

"When we went over the lineups in practice, I saw the tallest guy that played for [Rider] was 6-7," said Smith, who is between 6 feet 9 and 6-10, and a wiry 218 pounds. "I felt that if I could get the ball in the post, I could make things happen."

Smith, whose 26 points in his debut against Georgetown was the most by a Maryland player in his first game, continues to make a lot of things happen. After missing three of his first four shots, Smith finished 11 of 18 to make him 26 of 44 for the season. He also hit 11 of 14 from the foul line, giving him 20 free throws in 25 attempts.

Asked about Smith's ability to put up impressive numbers, Maryland coach Gary Williams said: "Joe can do that. With his size advantage, he's going to score. His quickness and his touch are really key. Joe has a lot of confidence in his ability."

To its credit, Rider wasn't easy to put away. But the Broncs didn't have the size to match up with the Terps in general and Smith in particular. Their best player, another freshman named Smith, is a lean 6-6 forward. Charles Smith scored 18 points and had 10 rebounds for Rider.

"We don't play against guys like him every night," Rider coach Kevin Bannon said of Maryland's Smith. "In the second half, they kind of concentrated inside and manhandled us. He really made a great transition from high school to college. I can't believe he's just a freshman. He's a big, big-time player."

Joe Smith wasn't the only Maryland freshman to hurt Rider last night. Former Dunbar star Keith Booth ignored some shaky shooting (five for 15)to have his best all-around game this season, finishing with 15 points, seven rebounds and a team-high six assists. Sophomores Exree Hipp and Johnny Rhodes added 13 and 12, respectively. Rhodes also had eight rebounds, six assists and a career-high six steals.

"We're going to continue to improve," said Williams, whose team will play again tomorrow night when it plays host to UMBC. "There might have been a letdown after the first two games, but we're the type of team that's going to have to play hard every time out. Hopefully we're going to learn from this."

As for Smith, he expects things to get tougher as opposing teams learn -- and hear -- about him. But for now, he continues to put up impressive numbers for Maryland.

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