Freshmen enjoy day to remember

March 06, 1994|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- For the first time in more than a decade, the Maryland basketball team didn't have a player to honor during its Senior Day festivities at Cole Field House.

Instead, two of the Atlantic Coast Conference's burgeoning stars turned yesterday's game against Virginia into Freshman Day. Score this one for the young Terrapins, a little more than a month after being outplayed by their counterparts in Charlottesville.

In what turned out to be the most decisive 10 minutes in Maryland's 70-68 victory, Joe Smith and Keith Booth led the Terps on a 22-9 run to start the second half. Then it was Virginia's freshmen, Harold Deane and Jamal Robinson, who led the Cavaliers in their ill-fated comeback.

Smith, who likely will become the first Maryland player to be selected ACC Freshman of the Year, finished with a game-high 20 points to go along with 11 rebounds and five blocks. Booth, the former Dunbar star, scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half. Deane and Robinson each had 16 for Virginia.

"Joe Smith and Keith Booth were great for us inside," said Maryland coach Gary Williams. "We were running our offense well in the first half, and you can't beat Virginia by taking bad shots. We got the ball to Joe and Keith, and we started driving more in the second half."

Smith and Booth combined for Maryland's first eight points in the second half to help the Terps open a 38-30 lead. A reverse by Booth made it 42-32. A dunk by Booth made it 52-39. After Deane, a 6-foot-1 guard, and Robinson, a 6-6 swingman, brought the Cavaliers back from a 13-point deficit to 64-59, Smith made the first of two free throws. When it was down to 66-63, Booth made a pair of free throws with 15.1 seconds to play.

Yesterday's performance was certainly a bit of redemption for Smith, who had his worst performance of an otherwise brilliant season in Maryland's 73-66 loss at Virginia on Feb. 2. The 6-10 center was three of 19 from the field. Booth, who was in early foul trouble against the Cavaliers at University Hall, played a solid 31 minutes while picking up only two personal fouls.

"I didn't feel any pressure [on the free throws]," said Booth. "If you're a player, it's an opportunity you'll step up and make those kind of shots."

The kind that seniors usually do on Senior Day. But except for NTC one of the team's managers, there was not a senior in sight for Maryland yesterday. Just call it Freshman Day.

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