Terrapins make point in rout of UMBC, 104-66 Williams starts Kovarik over Stokes in victory

December 14, 1997|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Gary Williams tried a big lineup, a small one and about a dozen in between, but the only experiment anyone wanted to talk about last night was the one he eye-balled at point guard.

Maryland routed UMBC, 104-66, before an announced crowd of 13,913 at Cole Field House. The only suspense occurred when the lineups were announced, and senior point guard Matt Kovarik started instead of junior Terrell Stokes.

Williams said he isn't sure who will start at the point in the Terps' next game, Dec. 22 against UNC-Asheville.

"It's a move that was good for us right now," Williams said. "It doesn't have to be permanent. It's something different. I told Terrell I wanted to see what this looks like, but he's got to keep playing. He didn't get blamed for us beating Kansas, but he got blamed for everything else."

That was Williams' way of saying it wasn't a snap decision. The Terps' half-court offense had been shaky down the stretch in losses to Clemson and George Washington, but Stokes had seven assists to one turnover against the Colonials, and his teammates had been guilty of some silly shot selection.

"Losing magnifies a lot of things," Stokes said. "The first thing people look at is the point guard, who's running the show. I'm all for this team, I have to be, I have no other choice. What am I going to do, transfer? I still have to try to get this team to the Final Four, try to win the national championship."

It was the fourth start of Kovarik's career, but the only other one since 1994 had come in last season's NCAA tournament loss to the College of Charleston, when Stokes and Laron Profit were benched for breaking curfew.

"I've wanted to put that game out of mind," said Kovarik, who echoed the party line, that he'll do whatever is best for the team. "I'll just keep trying to play the best I can. Point is just like any other position. We both can play. We both just want to win."

Stokes had more points (10), assists (6), steals (1) and minutes (19) than Kovarik. Both had one turnover.

It was the first in a four-game stretch that will determine the rotation Maryland will ride into the heart of its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule, a stretch that led Williams to say beforehand, "Where we are after Missouri [Dec. 30] is where we'll be in January and February."

Williams tinkered with a lot of combinations, 10 in the first half alone, as the No. 19 Terps (5-3) sought to improve on an up-and-down stay at the Franklin National Bank Classic.

He went big, as junior center Obinna Ekezie and freshman 7-footer Mike Mardesich got what was probably their lengthiest stint of the season together. He went small, as the big men were replaced by 6-8 Rodney Elliott and 6-7 freshman LaRon Cephas, who was getting his first significant playing time since undergoing a hernia operation in mid-November.

UMBC (2-5) starts four freshmen and a sophomore, and after nipping at the heels of N.C. State last Sunday, the Retrievers jumped to a 14-6 lead on the Terps.

Kovarik was still on the floor when Maryland answered with a 10-0 run. He pumped his fist when his lob pass to Profit turned into a dunk and a three-point play with 13: 54 left in the half, then was replaced by Stokes.

UMBC got a final tie at 19 on freshman Rich Giddens' three-pointer, but Maryland ran away during a five-minute spurt in which it outscored the Retrievers 22-5. Sarunas Jasikevicius scored eight straight points in that run, but the catalyst was a quicker five and full-court pressure, which forced most of the Retrievers' 20 first-half turnovers.

Kovarik was at the point for an ensuing 15-0 run that padded the lead to 58-29 with 2: 19 left in the half. Five minutes into the %% second half, the score was still doubled, at 80-40.

Maryland's starters made 71.1 percent (27-38) of their field-goal attempts. Profit and Jasikevicius, who had a game-high eight assists, combined for 31 points in the first half, and both finished with 18. UMBC freshman forward Kennedy Okafor had 20 points 9-for-11 shooting, but the rest of the Retrievers shot 30.6 percent.

ACC standings

.. .. .. .. .. .Conference .. .. .. ...Overall

.. .. .. .. ....W ...L ...Pct .. W . .L .. Pct

Duke .. .. .. ..1 ...0 .1.000 .. 9 ...1.. .900

Clemson .. .. ..1 ...0 .1.000 .. 5 ...3.. .625

N.C. State .. ..1 ...0 .1.000 .. 5 ...2.. .714

UNC .. .. .. ...0 ...0.. .000 ..10 ...0..1.000

Fla. St. .. .. .0 ...0.. .000 ...6 ...1. 1.857

W. Forest .. ...0 ...0.. .000 ...6 ...1.. .857

Ga. Tech .. .. .0 ...1.. .000 ...5 ...2.. .714

Maryland .. .. .0 ...1.. .000 ...5 ...3.. .625

Virginia .. .. .0 ...1.. .000 ...5 ...3.. .625

Yesterday's results

Maryland 104, UMBC 66

Michigan 81, Duke 73

North Carolina 50, Princeton 42

Illinois 71, Clemson 61

Kentucky 85, Georgia Tech 71

Virginia 73, VCU 67

Today's games

Florida St. at Florida, 4

Pub Date: 12/14/97 %%

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