Owls' zone is no hoot for Terps

Temple's defense takes Maryland out of rhythm in 73-65 loss

27 turnovers is 16-game high

Wrestling match pins 2nd loss in 8 games

February 14, 2000|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

PHILADELPHIA -- Maryland got lost in a zone yesterday.

Not the Twilight Zone. Temple's matchup zone.

The Terps were on the cusp of their best week -- eight days, actually -- since the 1980s. Storm-the-court wins over N.C. State and Duke preceded a nationally televised nonconference test at No. 19 Temple, and after 35 minutes, a one-point game had No. 23 Maryland poised to shoot up the rankings.

In the blink of a couple of rushed shots and a turnover or three, however, the Terps came unglued and lost, 73-65, to a wiser Owls team. Maryland committed 27 turnovers -- its most in 16 games -- and had its third-worst shooting performance of the college basketball season.

"There's no doubt that Temple's defense disrupted us," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "We couldn't seem to hang onto the ball, and we didn't seem to be able to take it to the level necessary to win today. We didn't have any patience. You can go all year in the ACC and not see any zone. We should have done a better job of running a better zone offense."

Temple (18-4) won this test of wills as Maryland (17-7) took 24 three-pointers, the most since its previous loss, at North Carolina. The Terps had gone inside to win six of their past seven games and climb the ranks in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but the unique defense employed by coach John Chaney made it difficult to attack the basket.

Lonny Baxter was 7-for-7 at the foul line, but he was the only Terp to go there. He had bulled his way to 24 field goals in Maryland's past two games. He got two yesterday. Juan Dixon had 21 points, but shot 8-for-22 and had six turnovers, one fewer than point guard Steve Blake. Terence Morris had 17 points, but eight came in the last two minutes, and his defensive assignment, Lamont Barnes, had a game-high 23.

The Terps went from a footrace at Duke to a wrestling match at Temple, which leads the nation in scoring defense and field-goal percentage defense. Maryland made 38.1 percent of its attempts.

The matchup zone opened the backdoor for a couple of lob passes that led to dunks, but all too often Maryland had to resort to skip passes to swing the ball against Temple's manic defensive rotation. You can count on one hand the times the Terps got dribble penetration in the half court against Pepe Sanchez -- who had a career-high nine steals -- and company.

Morris' untimely production followed the decisive run in a deliberate game that nonetheless produced several spurts. Maryland wanted to push the pace and used an 8-0 run to go up 13-7. Minutes later Temple came back with 13 straight points for a 27-20 lead. The Terps answered with 10 straight.

Finally, Temple used a 7-0 run to pad a 55-54 lead into an eight-point cushion.

The Owls broke free with two jump shots from Baltimore's Mark Karcher and another from sixth man Lynn Greer, who had all 14 of his points in the second half. The Terps, meanwhile, went more than four minutes without a point, as the team that was relentless at Duke couldn't finish when it counted at the Liacouras Center.

After Dixon got caught in a switch and couldn't contest Karcher's shot from the right wing that made it 57-54 with 4: 53 left, Baxter was blocked by Kevin Lyde. Karcher hit another jumper, and after Maryland had gotten a new shot clock, Dixon rushed a three.

On an ensuing possession, Dixon missed again, and Danny Miller and Blake could not convert three-pointers. After Greer -- who ran Dixon through a series of screens down the stretch -- made another jumper, Morris finally ended the drought with a tap-in. That's when Maryland's frustration really mounted, as the Terps got nothing out of two Temple turnovers against their press.

A Morris put-back made it 64-60 with 59.4 seconds left, and a bad inbounds pass gave Dixon an open runner in the lane. He missed.

"We played some good pressure defense, got a couple of steals, but we weren't able to finish," Dixon said. "That's a five-footer I usually make. For it to hit the front of the rim and be short, I was really [mad]."

There were a half-dozen excuses for Maryland.

While Duke had won 46 straight at home before it was stopped by the Terps, Temple took its 20th straight at home, where the Owls renamed their arena in honor of their retiring president. They were rolling through the Atlantic 10 Conference, and perhaps the game meant more to them. A telling statistic: Maryland, the ACC leader in blocks, had none for the first time this season.

Not disclosed until after the game was the news that a brother of Alex Wesby, a Temple reserve, had died of an apparent drug overdose the night before. If that tragedy distracted the Owls, it didn't show.

"This time of the year, I tell the guys it's time," Chaney said. "It's NCAA time. You've got to show up for these games."

Williams, meanwhile, agreed that it was one loss that Maryland can learn from come March.

"If you play a team that plays a different defense, you do have some experience," Williams said. "With a freshman and three sophomores out there, it was a good learning experience."

Next for Terps

Opponent: Georgia Tech (11-12, 3-7 ACC)

Where: Cole Field House, College Park

When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio: ESPN/WBAL (1090 AM)

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