Terps break down FSU 26-6 run after timeout lifts Maryland by No. 13 for 1st ACC win, 81-74

January 08, 1998|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Forty-six seconds into the second half of last night's game against Florida State, Maryland appeared ready to stumble to its third loss in as many Atlantic Coast Conference contests.

When the Seminoles jumped on some listless play by the home team and pushed an eight-point halftime lead up to 12, coach Gary Williams called a 20-second timeout, and it wasn't to ask the Terps how they were enjoying their semester break.

"I told them, 'We played too well in the first half to let this thing go, we're too good to do this,' " Williams said. "We gave up a backdoor basket and then lost the ball on a casual play. We make that pass 100 times a day in practice. It was ridiculous.

"Fortunately for our players, it [the timeout] was only 20 seconds."

Fortunately for Maryland, it increased the level of its commitment on defense and limited No. 13 Florida State to just two baskets over the next 12 minutes. The Terps outscored the Seminoles 26-6 in that time and came back for an 81-74 victory before a sellout crowd of 14,500 at Cole Field House.

The Terps (8-5, 1-2) were coming off of a dismal 32-point loss to Duke that had bounced them out of the Top 25. Maryland overcome an 0-3 ACC start to reach the NCAA tournament two years ago, but it wanted no part of going to North Carolina State on Saturday needing its first conference win.

"This was important first because it was our first win in the league," senior guard Sarunas Jasikevicius said. "Plus, we didn't just beat any ACC team, we beat the No. 13 team in the country. The way we had dug ourselves a little hole, this might be our best win of the year."

With wins over Arizona and Connecticut, Florida State (12-3, 1-2) was one of the nation's surprise teams under first-year coach Steve Robinson. The Seminoles had three solid road wins in the past 10 days, and should have felt at home, since the humidity at Cole felt like the Gulf of Mexico, but for only the second time in a close game this season, the opposition wilted instead of Maryland.

"Their defense took us out of our offense, and Corey [Louis] not being in the game had something to do with it," said Robinson, who lost his senior center to five fouls with 6: 19 left. "Their pressure bothered us a little bit. We have played teams who have pressured us all season, so I was surprised how we reacted to it."

The defensive resolve was a good thing, because Maryland wasn't exactly humming at the offensive end.

Maryland made only one of its nine three-pointers. Jasikevicius missed his first six shots, and forward Laron Profit could convert only one of his last six. Center Obinna Ekezie came out stone cold, but all three finished in double figures, along with power forward Rodney Elliott and reserve point guard Terrell Stokes.

The bench that didn't deliver a single point against Duke produced 20 this time, as Stokes, who celebrates his 22nd birthday today, had 10 points, three assists and no turnovers. Mike Mardesich, a 7-foot freshman center, had a career-high 10 rebounds.

Despite the foul trouble that affected Louis and point guard Kerry Thompson, the Seminoles finished the first half with a 13-2 run and a 41-33 lead. Terrell Baker went backdoor and LaMarr Greer's steal and breakaway increased the lead to 45-33, but then Williams made use of that 20-second interlude.

"Our shots weren't falling," Profit said, "but we had to keep playing, keep coming at them."

Maryland's 26-6 run started with nine straight points, and included Jasikevicius' first basket and a steal and slam by the 6-10 Ekezie. The Terps' first lead in 13 minutes came on a sweet dish by Profit, who drove the right baseline, drew the defense and found Mardesich for a dunk and a 50-49 advantage with 12: 02 left.

Freshman center Karim Shabazz got one of two free throws for Florida State's last tie with 11: 12 remaining, but Maryland answered with another run, this time of seven points.

The Terps whipped the ball upcourt and Jasikevicius drained an open three; Profit, who scored nine of his 15 points from the line, made two free throws after being fouled on a breakaway, and the half-court offense produced a short jumper in the lane by Elliott, all the while denying the Seminoles good looks or second chances.

Another Ekezie dunk got the lead up to 59-51 with 7: 10 left. Jasikevicius padded it to 66-56 with a strong three-point play. Florida State started fouling and Maryland made 13 of its next 14 free throws en route to a 13-point lead, breathing room it needed to hold off a late Seminoles' rally that consisted of three-pointers on three straight possessions.

Florida State got 17 points from Baker and 15 from Greer.

"I've been around this game too long to look at the third [ACC] game as being key," Williams said, "but I'd rather be 1-2 than 0-3."

Pub Date: 1/08/98

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