Carolina widens bad UM road

Lack of inside game hands Terps 3rd loss in row on road, 75-63

Lead fades when threes fail

Haywood's 24 help Heels end 4-game skid

January 28, 2000|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Five bus rides, three hotels, two airports and the only number that mattered: one more frustrating loss on the road.

One of the longest days in Maryland basketball history delivered a downer last night, as the Terps forgot to tend to one detail on their snow-altered itinerary. North Carolina avoided a losing streak of epic proportions and beat No. 22 Maryland, 75-63, mainly because coach Gary Williams' team forgot to pack an inside game for either end of the court.

A record snowstorm had delayed the game for 24 hours, and a raucous crowd of 15,455 stormed the floor at the Smith Center after Atlantic Coast Conference rival North Carolina ended its first four-game losing streak in eight years.

Maryland (13-6, 2-4) had an early 11-point lead and the possible ignominy of a storied program's worst skid since 1952 weighing on the Tar Heels. The Terps could not continue the three-point shooting that carried them in the first half, however, and were buried under an avalanche of free throws and second chances by North Carolina (12-8, 3-3).

"I've always felt the game should be played from the inside out," Williams said of his team's reliance on perimeter points last night. "It's kind of like fool's gold. It's fine as long as we made our shots, but it caught up with us when we cooled off in the second half. That's why you have to be able to get the ball inside like Carolina did tonight."

Junior center Brendan Haywood equaled his career high with 24 points and the Tar Heels took 19 more free throws than the Terps, who went nearly 24 minutes without a trip to the foul line and got a total of three second-half baskets from their top inside threats, junior forward Terence Morris and sophomore center Lonny Baxter.

Maryland led for the last 10 minutes of the first half and 50-45 with 15: 58 remaining on a three-pointer from the left corner by Morris. That shot made the Terps a remarkable 10-for-16 from three-point range, but they missed their last 11 attempts behind the arc and lacked resolve to get inside.

North Carolina used a six-minute scoreless lapse to mount a pivotal 14-0 run, during which neither Morris nor sophomore guard Juan Dixon, who finished with 22 points, took a shot. While North Carolina used ball movement to set up a go-ahead three-pointer by Max Owens and a couple of screens to free point guard Ed Cota for another, the Terps could not locate their best scoring options.

"I got frustrated a little bit," said Morris, who vented some of his emotion toward point guard Steve Blake after a possession in which Mike Mardesich took a jumper behind the foul line while the preseason All-America wanted to post up 6-5 Max Owens.

Morris, in his first game since he sprained an ankle Jan. 19, scored 16 points, but took only four shots in the second half. Williams intimated that Morris needed to become more aggressive in getting the ball.

"We have to run better offense," Williams said, "but everyone has to be active, too."

When Baxter was fouled in the act with 9: 44 left, he attempted Maryland's first free throws since the game's sixth minute. He clanked both, but Morris broke the point drought with a clutch jumper on the right side, Baxter followed with a left-handed dunk on a monstrous putback and Dixon resumed his production.

Dixon's foul-line jumper had the Terps within 62-60 with 5: 33 left, but Maryland's comeback was foiled when it failed to box out on three straight North Carolina possessions. Each was more galling than the previous letdown, and when football lineman-turned- power forward Julius Peppers tapped in a miss with 5: 03 left to make it 64-60, Maryland had no fight left.

The Terps did not score a field goal the rest of the way, as their shooting dipped to 25.9 percent (7-for-27) in the second half.

"We just broke down," Williams said.

Maryland missed its first seven shots and fell behind 6-0 in the first four minutes, but the Terps caught fire on the perimeter and made five straight three-pointers en route to a 26-15 lead with 7: 58 to go in the first half. North Carolina coach Bill Guthridge mixed a straight man-to-man defense with a couple of zones, but all were solved by Maryland shooters in the first half.

The Tar Heels stayed in the first half with 15-for-16 shooting at the free throw line, and pounded it back inside in the second.

"I'm glad I didn't have to come in and answer questions about losing five games in a row," Guthridge said. "I hope this is a springboard for us."

With Raleigh-Durham International Airport closed until yesterday afternoon by a record snowfall, Maryland's arduous day began with an hour bus ride from an airport hotel in Greensboro to the Smith Center for a shoot-around. Afterward, the Terps checked into a hotel in Chapel Hill for an hour or three of quiet and a pre-game meal, then bused back to the Smith Center for the game.

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