Hipp reappears, assuring lead won't vanish

March 18, 1994|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Staff Writer

WICHITA, Kan. -- He had taken only one shot in 14 first-half minutes, had not scored a point or grabbed a rebound. His contribution to Maryland's five-point lead was some solid defense on Saint Louis forward Scott Highmark, but he was otherwise invisible.

For a player whose sophomore season has been marked by a number of disappearing acts, Exree Hipp even outdid himself in the first half of yesterday's NCAA tournament Midwest Regional first-round game. Hipp had turned into Houdini.

"I was trying to get the other guys involved, and to play good defense," Hipp said. "But I needed to come out in the second half and hit some shots."

Hipp got into the act quickly, and as things turned out in the second half of Maryland's 74-66 win over the Billikens, often. A corner jumper by Hipp started both him and the Terps off well. Two free throws in the final seconds ended things well.

In the end, Hipp finished with nine points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals. He also held Highmark, Saint Louis' second-leading scorer, to nine points on three of 10 shooting.

"It was a big confidence boost," Hipp said of the first of three

straight shots he hit in the second half. "By me hitting my shots, it helped us get the ball inside to Joe [Smith]."

Said fellow sophomore Johnny Rhodes: "He played good defense the whole game, but he seemed like he was more into the offense in the second half."

Hipp's contribution didn't go unnoticed by Maryland coach Gary Williams. Smith's 29 points and 15 rebounds were the most vital statistics for the Terps, but they likely would not have survived without Hipp hitting from the perimeter.

"After he hit that shot, he started playing better defense, he started passing the ball well, he got more aggressive," said Williams. "He made a big difference for us."

In fact, he helped make Saint Louis disappear. For good.

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