Terps' 'kids' rise to moment 4 newcomers spark key surge in 95-83 win over Calif. All-Stars

November 12, 1998|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Flexibility is one of the features that makes the Maryland basketball team so intriguing.

The Terps used a fresh approach to gain space and overcome unexpected resistance in a 95-83 exhibition victory over the California All-Stars last night before 13,387 at Cole Field House. No. 6 Maryland had all four of its rookies on the court during a pivotal, 11-2 run.

"I was pleased with the play of our young guys," Terps coach Gary Williams said. "They were flying around out there, and that got us going. It was close when they came in, and I wanted them to get that experience."

It was the second of two exhibitions for the 10th team Williams has coached at Maryland. The games begin for real Saturday (8 p.m.) against Western Carolina, the first of four nonconference games the Terps will play at Cole before the Puerto Rico Shootout Thanksgiving weekend.

With former Georgia Tech star Drew Barry leading a California All-Stars surge, Maryland had a 54-53 lead with 13 minutes left and a lineup that totaled one season of NCAA experience. Williams obviously liked the response from three freshmen, junior-college transfer Steve Francis and sophomore center Mike Mardesich.

After forward Lonny Baxter made two free throws, fellow freshman Danny Miller made an inspired play, as he beat Barry to an All-Stars inbounds pass and went in for an uncontested dunk.

Baxter and Francis added two free throws apiece, before Juan Dixon's three-pointer from the left corner gave Maryland a 65-55 lead with 11: 07 left. The California All-Stars got within three at one point, before an older Maryland lineup scored eight straight points in the closing minutes.

"We started pressing, and that got us moving," Miller said. "They [the California All-Stars] dropped back in a zone the whole game, and we needed to do something to get us going."

Francis, the junior college All-American from Takoma Park, started on the wing over Dixon, the freshman from Calvert Hall who had gotten the nod in the first exhibition.

"I'd say we're close," said Williams, when asked if he had settled on a starting lineup for Western Carolina. "That's a pretty good look we had tonight."

Francis led Maryland with 18 points and six assists, and Dixon's 13 included 3-for-6 shooting beyond the arc. He also brought down seven rebounds. Maryland got a superb game from another relative youngster, as sophomore forward Terence Morris made eight of his nine attempts en route to a line that included 16 points and nine rebounds.

Center Obinna Ekezie had 14 points and 13 rebounds. A 53-29 advantage on the boards gave the Terps plenty of second chances that helped them solve that zone, a look Williams was glad to see.

The California All-Stars, who boast of Barry and former UCLA star Charles O'Bannon, came in with one win in a week's worth of visits to some of the nation's premier teams, but they did lose by only seven at Kansas.

The Terps had little difficulty against the zone in the first seven minutes, when they bolted to a 20-8 lead that featured the scoring and passing of Morris. He made all five of his attempts in the first half.

In what will apparently be an ongoing feature, a Francis feed to Laron Profit provided something spectacular for the minicams, as they combined on a first-half inbounds play for an alley-oop slam. Profit made only three of his other 14 attempts, and Francis drew a few boos when he missed an open dunk in the first half.

NOTES: Maryland won't make an official announcement until it receives all of the required paperwork, but the recruiting class it lined up in the early signing period is highly regarded. Steve Blake is one of the top point guard recruits, forward Tahj Holden was a key target for the Terps and Drew Nicholas is reminiscent of other shooting guards who have panned out for Williams. A limited number of $16 tickets are available for the games against Western Carolina and UMBC, the latter next Tuesday. To place an order, telephone 1-800-462-TERP. Twelve of Maryland's 21 turnovers came in the first half. Brian Watkins, who had never made a three-pointer in his college career, hit one at the end of the first half.

Pub Date: 11/12/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.