Terps look Fairleigh awesome

104-45 Dickinson rout sends Terps off to N.Y. with big smile

`Everything went right'

23-1 start decides it early

Nicholas hits 27

November 23, 1999|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- If everything went according to its plan, the Maryland basketball team knew it would compete in six games over 13 days. Well, now make that five games.

Scoring 23 of the game's first 24 points, the No. 24 Terrapins routed overmatched Fairleigh Dickinson, 104-45, before 13,724 at Cole Field House last night. Maryland (3-0) jumped on a bus immediately after the game for tomorrow's Preseason NIT semifinal game against No. 11 Kentucky.

Maryland's 59-point victory was the eighth-largest in school history. Freshman guard Drew Nicholas scored 27 points and junior guard Juan Dixon added 21.

"It was one of those nights where everything went right," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "It's tough to say how well we played. But the significance was the difference in our effort early in the game."

It was apparent how last night's game was headed when Fairleigh Dickinson coach Tom Green walked over to the scoring table with his team trailing 11-1 and said, "So how many life lines do I have left?"

Although he was alluding to the TV game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?," the better question might be: Who would want to have been Fairleigh Dickinson's coach last night?

The Knights (0-1), with no one on their roster with more than one year in their program, missed on their first 10 shots and didn't make a basket until 7: 51 into the game. They committed 17 of 30 turnovers in the first half, six of which occurred from trying to inbounds the ball against Maryland's pressure. They shot an airball on their first shot of the game as well as their second free throw of the game.

Maryland disposed of Fairleigh Dickinson quicker than it took to pack for its Thanksgiving trip to Manhattan.

The Terrapins converted on eight of their first 11 shots and Dixon racked up nine points in the opening 3 1/2 minutes. After a lay-in and two free throws by Mike Mardesich, Maryland had already cruised out to a 23-1 lead 7: 28 into the game.

Point guard Khalid Coursey ended the Knights' nearly eight-minute field-goal drought on a layup, but Maryland wouldn't allow Fairleigh Dickinson to break double figures until eight minutes remained in the first half.

That's when Maryland put the Knights away for good. Scoring 14 straight points in a matter of 3 1/2 minutes, Dixon's put-back inflated the Terrapins' lead to 48-17 with three minutes remaining in the first half.

"I know that we were playing a team that was ranked No. 24 in America," Green said. "If you asked me to vote right now, I'd vote them a lot higher."

It wasn't any different in the second half. Never letting their advantage dip below 40 points for the last 13 minutes, the Terrapins broke the century mark on a two-hand dunk by LaRon Cephas with 1: 12 remaining and reached their largest lead at 104-45 just 40 seconds later, when 6-foot-10 freshman forward Tahj Holden hit a three-pointer.

"We learned how to put away a team," Dixon said. "And never let them back in it."

The Terrapins entered last night with two primary objectives: show they can rebound and provide some rest to their starters. Check both off.

Maryland, which was out-rebounded in its first two games, displayed tenacity on the boards for a 47-28 margin. The Terrapins scored 14 second-chance points while allowing just two shots after offensive rebounds in the first half.

And the Terrapins, whose starters have averaged 31 minutes and 89 percent of their scoring, received a much-needed rest. No starter played more than 26 minutes and the bench supplied 45 points. Forward Danny Miller even got the chance to log in 10 minutes at point guard for the first time this season and Maryland experimented with its zone defense for the longest stretch of the year.

"We know we can play," Williams said. "We have to prove that we can do this night in and night out. This is the way we have to play. If we can sustain this for the next couple weeks, I'd be pretty happy."

NOTES: Maryland debuted at No. 24 in the Associated Press poll yesterday after being ranked in its top 10 for all 18 weeks of the 1998-99 season. Former Terrapins Rodney Elliott (BayRunners), Laron Profit (Washington Wizards) and Obinna Ekezie (Vancouver Grizzlies) were in attendance last night. The Terps have opened a season 3-0 four times previously this decade, including last year. Entering last night's game, the Terrapins had won 69 of 70 nonconference games under Williams. Maryland will play its next three games away from Cole, including a Nov. 30 game against No. 23 Iowa at the Baltimore Arena.

Terps next

Opponent: No. 11 Kentucky

What: Preseason NIT semifinals

When: Tomorrow, 8 p.m.

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York

TV/Radio: ESPN/WBAL (1090 AM)

The beat goes on

The Maryland basketball team has won a nation-leading 67 straight nonconference home games. The Terrapins haven't lost at Cole Field House to a team outside of the Atlantic Coast Conference since Dec. 12, 1989, when they fell to Coppin State in coach Gary Williams' first season at Maryland. A look at the four longest current streaks behind the Terrapins:

School Strk Began

Maryland 67 12-30-89

N. Carolina 55 2-21-89

Washington St. 41 11-28-90

Penn State 39 12-5-92

Clemson 39 3-17-94

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