Terps squeak by Towson State Rhodes scores 22 in 70-67 triumph

November 28, 1995|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

Leaning heavily on all-purpose guard Johnny Rhodes, Maryland extended its domination over Towson State with a 70-67 victory over the Tigers at the Baltimore Arena last night.

Rhodes scored 22 points, passing Joe Smith for 15th place on the Terps' all-time scoring list, to deliver Maryland's first victory of the year.

It was Maryland's 11th straight win, without a loss, in the series against the resilient Tigers, who were playing their season opener.

"I knew this would be a very difficult game for us for a couple of reasons," said Maryland coach Gary Williams. "Towson State is a very good team, They were very patient [against Maryland's trap], much more than Kentucky. They took time to get their shots in the first half. To their credit, they never folded. They were there to the end."

Towson coach Terry Truax said: "It was rewarding to see our kids compete this well."

Towson was nursing a 55-47 lead halfway through the second half when Maryland coach Gary Williams used his second timeout of the half.

That launched the Terps into a 13-1 run that produced their first lead since an 18-16 lead nine minutes into the game.

The run, predictably, was fueled by Rhodes, who scored nine of the 13 points. It was the second time in his career he had back-to-back 20-point games.

Towson came back to take a 61-60 lead on two free throws by Scooter Alexander and a three-pointer by Ralph Blalock.

Rhodes followed with a three-point bucket to make it 63-61, Maryland.

Towson came back to get ties at 63 and 65.

Keith Booth hit one of two free throws at 2:08 to put the Terps up, 66-65, and Duane Simpkins converted two free throws to make it 68-65.

Matt Dellinger scored off the glass to get Towson within 68-67 with 41 seconds left.

Simpkins hit a driving layup with 10 seconds left to open a three-point lead and Blalock missed a three-pointer at the buzzer.

"Maryland kept its composure at the end; we didn't," Truax said. "I probably did a poor job at the end. We should have gotten a better shot [on Blalock's last-second three-point attempt]."

Earlier in the day, Maryland dropped from 14th to 19th in the AP's Top 25 poll. Four Atlantic Coast Conference teams are ranked ahead of the Terps, who lost to Kentucky last Friday, 96-84.

Blalock and Alexander combined for 23 points in the first half, propelling Towson to a surprising 39-33 lead that went as high as eight points.

The Tigers' backcourt was relatively unaffected by Maryland's 2-1-2 three-quarter court trap. Both teams had 10 turnovers at the half, but the Terrapins shot only 37 percent and missed a number of shots inside. Towson hit 55 percent from the field and was 5-for-9 at the three-point line. Maryland was 1-for-5 in three pointers.

Alexander, coming off a redshirt season, hit five of seven shots for 10 points, and Blalock hit five of eight for 13. Blalock was 3-for-5 from the three-point line.

The game started off in almost predictable fashion. Towson, decimated by Maryland's press two years ago at the Arena, turned over the ball on its first two possessions against Maryland's pressing defense. Those turnovers resulted in dunks by Exree Hipp and Keith Booth, and triggered a 9-0 run for the Terps. Hipp followed with a three-point shot, and Booth hit a jumper from the corner.

Once the Tigers settled down, though, they set the tempo and controlled play. Down 18-14, Towson went on a 15-3 run that opened a 29-21 lead with 5:37 to play in the half. Michael Keyes came off the bench to score seven straight points in that spurt.

Maryland scored three straight baskets -- two by Mario Lucas -- to get within 29-27. Alexander and Rhodes traded baskets to make it 31-29, Towson, and then Blalock hit two straight three-pointers to put the Tigers in front by eight again, 37-29.

Lucas and Booth each scored eight in the first half for Maryland, and Hipp had seven.

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