Seniors going out in style, and say end's not in sight Confident trio saves some of best for last

Maryland notebook

hotel has Morris' number

Ncaa Tournament

March 13, 1998|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Illinois starts five seniors. Maryland isn't quite as deep in that class, but coach Gary Williams has no complaints about the way his three seniors are concluding their college careers.

The Terps will meet the Fighting Illini in a West Regional second-round game tomorrow, and if Rodney Elliott, Sarunas Jasikevicius and Matt Kovarik play like they have lately, it won't be their last game.

"We're going in with all the confidence in the world that we're going to play well," Elliott said.

Elliott, the forward from Dunbar High, had team-high totals of 21 points and 11 rebounds in yesterday's first-round dismantling of Utah State. It was the seventh straight game in which he's led the Terps in rebounding.

Jasikevicius scored in double figures for the sixth straight game. His 16 points were shaped by 6-for-9 shooting. Kovarik had five assists and provided some good defensive help on Marcus Saxon in the second half.

Jasikevicius made three big three-pointers late in the first half, and the first canceled a 26-23 lead by Utah State. It came on Maryland's first possession after an interruption that lasted nearly seven minutes, the time it took to replace a ripped net at the Aggies' basket.

Was Williams surprised by the cool way the Terps handled that long break?

"That's the sign of a veteran team," Williams said. "That doesn't affect us. We didn't pout."

Rookie mistake

Freshman Terence Morris, meanwhile, made a rookie mistake before his first NCAA tournament game. He left his jersey, the one with his number, 44, and name on the back, on his bed at the team's hotel. He had to wear No. 10 instead yesterday.

Morris made his presence felt by making all three of his field-goal attempts, a difficult tip-in in the first half and a pair of dunks on consecutive possessions in the second.

It wasn't anything new. The product of Thomas Johnson High in Frederick shot 60.6 percent from the field in the 10 previous games.

He played nine minutes in the first half, when Williams countered Utah State's quickness with a lineup that included one of his point guards, Jasikevicius, Laron Profit and Morris.

Travel plans

Morris could get more chances to perfect his packing. Williams said that if Maryland beats Illinois tomorrow, the Terps will return home afterward, attend class on Monday and Tuesday, then travel to Anaheim for the conclusion of the West Regional.

Three years ago, the Terps remained out West when they reached the Sweet 16, but that was during spring break. Maryland won its first two games in Salt Lake City before it was eliminated by Connecticut in Oakland, Calif.

Miscellaneous

The public-address announcer stumbled over Jasikevicius' name before a Maryland official straightened him out. The stands were three-quarters empty at the start of the Terps' game, and attendance for yesterday's first doubleheader was 14,920, below capacity. The state is now 1-1 at Arco Arena, the site of Loyola's lone NCAA appearance, in 1994. Obinna Ekezie has scored in double figures in 10 of Maryland's last 11 games. Williams wanted to get LaRon Cephas and Norman Fields in at the end, but Utah State wasn't in a mood to stop the rout, which at one point had Maryland ahead, 65-47. At 38-24, it was Maryland's biggest rebounding margin since it beat UMBC on Dec. 13, and its best shooting since it won at N.C. State Jan. 10. Oddest musical interlude: "Just a Gigolo" by the Utah State band.

Pub Date: 3/13/98

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