Nash catches unprepared Terps off guard Maryland had no answer for Broncos' playmaker

March 16, 1996|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

TEMPE, Ariz. - Rarely has Maryland been so disarmed this season.

The withering zone traps on defense? Santa Clara's Steve Nash experienced only temporary difficulty, then found the antidote.

Keith Booth's power game? Foul trouble and Brendan Graves, Santa Clara's 6-foot-10 center, took care of that.

A patient half-court offense? Misplaced somewhere in the rush to launch another jump shot from the perimeter.

Santa Clara ushered Maryland out of the NCAA tournament yesterday, striking a blow for the oft-maligned West Coast Conference with a convincing 91-79 victory in the opening round of the West subregional.

Maryland figured to press the issue with its arsenal of zone traps, but in the end, proved to be no match for Nash, the two-time player of the year in the WCC.

Nash dazzled the Terps with 28 points achieved on only eight field-goal attempts a dozen assists and only six turnovers playing against Exree Hipp, Laron Profit and Terrell Stokes. He was 17-for-18 at the foul line.

"He lived up to his reputation," Maryland's Duane Simpkins said. "We knew he was a very good player."

Playing with a tender hamstring, Nash bedeviled the Terps first with his precise passing, then with his shooting. He collected 18 of his 28 points in the second half.

"He's the kind of guy who will step up into the spotlight and get it done," Graves said of Nash. "He's a crunch-time player."

Graves gave the Broncos (20-8) a huge lift inside with 12 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots. He exploited Maryland's biggest weakness the lack of a big man in the paint with a dominating effort.

"We had a talk last night," Santa Clara coach Dick Davey said. "I told Brendan that this was a game that he should explode. He's been on the verge all year long and hasn't quite gotten it."

Graves was part of a constant double-team that effectively took Booth out of Maryland's offense. The 6-5 power forward finished with six points and three rebounds, both season lows.

"Everytime I got the ball, they had two guys on me," Booth said. "I got a little frustrated."

Booth picked up his fourth foul just 1: 11 into the second half, and sat out the next five minutes. It was during his absence that the Broncos started a critical 14-0 run.

Santa Clara turned a 48-47 lead into a 62-47 stranglehold, and even Booth's return could not stem the Broncos' momentum.

"We were starting to look like we were going to be a threat to them," Davey said. "They started extending their defense a little and we were able to get some back doors and create some momentum. I think the key concept for us was attack."

The Terps not only were outplayed by the Broncos, but perhaps out-coached, as well.

Asked if Maryland had underestimated Santa Clara, Hipp cited flaws in the Terps' game plan.

"We don't do the scouting," he said. "We just practice what they tell us. I guess we did underestimate them as a team. [Marlon] Garnett shot the ball better than we thought, and so did [Drew] Zurek."

What's more, Hipp said Santa Clara knew exactly what plays were coming.

"They called our plays on defense," Hipp said. "They knew everything we ran. They did a heck of a scouting job."

Pub Date: 3/16/96

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