UCLA slams Terps, 105-70

Watson, Bruins dish UM out of tourney with high-flying 31-4 run

Worst Terps loss in 7 years

'Getting kicked' irks coach

dunks abound

Ncaa Tournament

March 19, 2000|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS -- Maryland got Danny Miller back.

UCLA could have loaned them alumnus Reggie Miller last night, and the Terps still would have been in trouble.

No. 17 Maryland was sternly bounced out of the NCAA tournament's Midwest Region, as its second-round matchup at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome was no match at all. The Bruins never trailed and outscored the Terps 31-4 over a 10-minute stretch that spanned halftime, as Maryland soiled a solid season with a 105-70 loss.

It was Maryland's worst loss in seven years, and matched its largest margin of defeat in the NCAA tournament. UCLA added to a postseason history that includes a record 11 national championships. The Bruins pulled their starters early, but coach Gary Williams still had three of his on the floor with three minutes left.

"Tonight nothing went right," Williams said. "UCLA looked quicker tonight than they ever did on tape. We didn't come out well, and that's all they needed."

It was Maryland's second straight disturbing exit from the tournament, as it fell apart offensively in a third-round loss to St. John's last night. Whether it was in transition or the half court, its defensive work was the glaring deficiency last night, as UCLA scored at will in the first 25 minutes, when it made a mind-boggling 78.3 percent of its field-goal attempts. Unranked but surging UCLA will meet Iowa State in a Midwest semifinal Thursday in Auburn Hills, Mich.

Former UCLA coach John Wooden was in attendance, and the Wizard of Westwood had to wonder if he had stepped into a time machine. It was a vintage performance for the Bruins, as fourth-year coach Steve Lavin's team was bigger, faster, stronger and better prepared than the Atlantic Coast Conference runner-up.

Sixth-seeded UCLA (21-11) extended its longest win streak in three years to eight games, as the Bruins handed Maryland (25-10) the first second-round loss of its seven consecutive years in the tournament. The third-seeded Terps had been to the Sweet 16 four of the last six seasons, and were upset in the first round in the other two.

Maryland wanted to spend spring break this week in the sunny suburbs north of Detroit, but a UCLA team that was made complete when wing JaRon Rush's NCAA suspension was lifted two weeks ago had other plans.

There was also the added motivation of revenge, as a veteran Maryland team routed UCLA, 70-54, in the semifinals of the Puerto Rico Shootout last season. This time, it was the Bruins who were throwing lob passes three-quarters of the court to set up dunks and knocking down three-pointers (14-for-25) with astonishing ease.

"Tonight was a breakthrough game," said Lavin, who has 13 players on his roster who have started. "You don't have the deer in the headlights look which you may have with a younger, more inexperienced team. Our depth plays a part in wearing people out."

UCLA's bench had more than half of its points, but fatigue shouldn't have been a problem at the start, when Maryland fell behind 14-2 and junior Earl Watson left behind a queasy Steve Blake.

Watson had UCLA in control from the opening tap, as he finished with 17 points and a school-record 16 assists. Even with a big drop-off in the second half, the Bruins' 62.5 percent shooting (40 of 64) was easily the best by a Maryland foe in the last two years.

"They executed at both ends of the floor, and we didn't," sophomore forward Juan Dixon said. "They had a lot of open looks and they knocked them down."

Miller, the sophomore forward who had sat out Thursday's first-round rout of Iona with a sprained ankle, returned, but Maryland still came out unsettled. Lonny Baxter got his second foul in the ninth minute, but the Terps composed themselves, went on a 17-5 run and were within 34-31 after 15 minutes.

But the Bruins ended the first half with a 15-2 run. They began the second with a 16-2 spurt, as the Terps' only points in the first three minutes after the break came when 6-foot-11 center Dan Gadzuric inadvertently tapped in a Terps miss.

That blistering run included three three-pointers by Watson, each from further out, adding to an educational week for Blake, who complained of an upset stomach. He had been outplayed Sunday by Duke's Jason Williams in the Terps' first appearance in the ACC title game since 1984.

"I thought we shared the ball well," Lavin said. "Earl Watson is playing as well as any guard in the country right now."

The last of those three quick bombs by Watson made it 65-35, and left room for more than 16 minutes of garbage time.

Besides Watson's career night, UCLA had four other players score in double figures, as sophomores Jerome Moiso and JaRon Rush had 14 points apiece.

Baxter had a meaningless 22 points, as 16 came in the second half. Dixon had 10 of his 16 in the first half, and junior forward Terence Morris finished with 13 points and a season-low three rebounds.

UCLA established its resolve on its first two possessions, when Moiso posted up Morris and scored without much resistance. A three by Dixon would get Maryland a tie at 19, but then the Terps became flatfooted in transition again and gave UCLA the space to square its shoulders and fire three-pointers.

Maryland enjoyed a 28-point lead on Iona in the first round. It was down to UCLA by as much as 36, at 86-50, when Moiso dunked with 9: 21 left. The 35-point margin was the worst beating for the Terps since the 1993 ACC semifinals.

"I've been beaten pretty good before, but not like that at this level," Williams said. "I have a lot of pride. I don't like getting kicked, and we got our butts kicked tonight. I hate that. I can take losing, but I can't take losing like that."

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