Maryland climbs past Mount St. Mary's Profit shoots Terrapins to physical 102-74 win

November 23, 1997|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Mount St. Mary's coach Jim Phelan knew his team was going to be in trouble in its season opener against Maryland even before the game started.

"The worst thing that happened to us was Maryland's game against Fairleigh Dickinson [on Tuesday]," said Phelan, referring the Terps' ragged 11-point win. "Maryland didn't play its game. They didn't play like they played [last night]."

After the Fairleigh Dickinson game that wasn't decided until the final minutes, the Terrapins last night were prepared. From beginning to end they used their defensive pressure to overwhelm the Mountaineers, 102-74, in an extremely physical affair before a sellout crowd at Cole Field House.

Laron Profit scored 21 points -- his third straight game of 20 or more points -- to lead four players in double figures for the Terrapins, who improved to 2-1. Profit got his 21 points while taking only 10 shots.

It was Maryland's 54th straight nonconference win at Cole Field House and its 20th straight victory against an in-state opponent.

Obinna Ekezie added 17 points and Rodney Elliott 16 as the Terrapins used a well-balanced attack and their size advantage on the front line to overwhelm the Mountaineers.

"I want the balance, I want everyone scoring and contributing," said Profit. "If you have the balance, opponents won't be able to key on any one guy."

Tony Hayden and Gerben Van Dorpe each scored 18 points to lead the Mountaineers (0-1).

Mount St. Mary's was pretty much out of the game after Van Dorpe gave the Mountaineers a 2-0 lead. From there the Mountaineers turned the ball over on five straight possessions, with Maryland converting each miscue into a basket. The Terrapins had a double-digit lead just over eight minutes into the game, which they maintained the rest of the half.

"We knew that we had to deal with the pressure and hard play," said Phelan, the nation's winningest active coach with 772 victories in 44 seasons, but who is is now 0-3 against the Terps. "Maryland has big, experienced, good athletes and they were ready to play. I think it would have helped us to have played at least one game before tonight."

How the bad blood surfaced depends on whom you ask. The Mountaineers felt they were getting mauled, and not getting any calls. And that came to a boiling point with 3: 49 left in the first half when, during a battle for a loose ball, Mount St. Mary's guard Irv Conwell appeared to get fouled by Maryland center Mike Mardesich.

A jump ball was called, and Conwell stepped toward Mardesich. Then Conwell and Profit exchanged angry words, with both players being called for technical fouls. Maryland coach Gary Williams was in the middle of pack, pulling Profit away.

"I was concerned we didn't swing, and that's good we didn't -- we can't afford to lose a player," Williams said. "The head coach is the only coach allowed on the court. What you try to do is wedge yourself in there and duck."

Less than two minutes into the second half, Mount St. Mary's forward Newton Gayle and Maryland forward Rodney Elliott had to be separated -- not much of a surprise because the two exchanged angry words in the first half.

"Instead of playing the game and proving it on the court, they let their emotions get the best of them," Profit said. "The physical play is part of the game. We're not out there to box and wrestle. I think guys came out with too much energy."

There weren't any incidents the rest of the game as Maryland put on a layup and dunk clinic and cruised to the easy win. Maryland led by as many as 35 points.

While Phelan pleaded his case during the game with the officials, he took it all in stride afterward.

"What happens in games like that is they don't let you play the same at both ends -- they never do," Phelan said, matter-of-factly. "They're coming over the back the whole game, it's not a foul. We tap them, it's over the back.

"It's expected, I've seen too many games," Phelan added. "You take your $25,000, and you go home. In the ACC they pay [officials] $600 a game, or something like that. In the Northeast Conference, they pay $250. Who you going to keep happy?"

Phelan was just pleased that there was no carry-over after the game when the two teams shook hands.

"I was pleased to see when they were shaking hands that it ended right there," Phelan said. "And it did."

Pub Date: 11/23/97

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