Terps drive past Wagner in cruise control

Ease of 79-57 victory leads to flaws, but freshmen and Randle (10-for-10) impress

January 05, 2003|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- The Maryland Terrapins opened the new year against Wagner yesterday, but in the end, the theme was the same as it was in early-season nonconference wins over Miami (Ohio), The Citadel and Duquesne.

The outcome was never in doubt as the 22nd-ranked Terps barely needed to break a sweat.

The way the Terps attained the final result, a 79-57 victory over the overmatched Seahawks before 17,505 at the Comcast Center, didn't exactly enthrall coach Gary Williams nor several of his players, who found numerous flaws in the team's performance.

"We got off to a great start and we reacted to that in the wrong way," said Williams. "We don't get outworked often, but I thought we did today."

Senior guard Drew Nicholas, who scored 13 points, agreed, but then summed up the team's attitude best when he said, "I thought we relaxed a little bit and didn't play the way we wanted to play for 40 minutes, but it's still a 20-point win, and we'll take that."

There were also some positives, starting with the play of senior center Ryan Randle, who dominated inside, scoring 21 points on perfect 10-for-10 shooting, to go along with seven rebounds.

"I just wanted to take the ball to the rack really hard and finish my chances when I had good position," Randle said.

The Maryland center had 17 of his points in the second half, during which the Terps (7-3) shot 58.6 percent from the field and never allowed the Seahawks (4-6) to benefit from the play of senior Jermaine Hall, whose 26 points and 11 rebounds only helped keep the Terps' lead in the 20s.

Given plenty of playing time in a game that the Terps led by double digits from the 15:40 mark of the first half, the freshmen continued their maturation. Nik Caner-Medley put together an active nine-point, six-rebound effort.

Jamar Smith ripped down four offensive rebounds and nine boards overall. Travis Garrison, starting for the third straight game, had seven points, nine rebounds and four blocks, and the man he replaced, senior Tahj Holden, again looked comfortable in his sixth-man role.

"I think I have played well in the last two games, period," said Holden, who had 11 points and was also a force on the boards. "It really has nothing to do with coming off the bench. ... I was just taking whatever was given to me. If you're open, you have to shoot the ball."

Newcomer Chris McCray also had his most memorable game to date, with eight points and seven steals in a season-high 21 minutes.

The Seahawks, from Staten Island, N.Y., and the Northeast Conference, appeared doomed from the start. They missed 12 of their first 15 shots and 11 of 13 three-point efforts in the first half.

That they trailed only 40-21 at halftime had more to do with Maryland's errant first-half shooting (38.5 percent) and an eight-plus-minute stretch during which the Terps managed only one field goal: a crowd-pleasing dunk by McCray.

In the second half, the Terps found their form by pounding the ball into Randle, who scored their first three baskets after intermission. The last one, a thunderous slam off a Nicholas pass, extended the lead to 48-25.

"I didn't do a good job of getting Ryan the ball," admitted Williams, whose center took only two first-half shots. "Ryan is becoming a force and we have to get him the ball in this offense."

With the score 48-30 at the 15:49 mark of the second, Williams replaced all five of his starters, bringing in three freshmen -- John Gilchrist, McCray and Smith -- sophomore Andre Collins and senior Holden.

When the starters returned at the 10:32 mark, Maryland's lead was 61-38 and no suspense remained. Senior point guard Steve Blake, who had 12 assists and no turnovers in 31 minutes, had already surpassed former Michigan State standout Mateen Cleaves in 20th place on the NCAA all-time assists list, and it was clear the Terps would enter Wednesday's game against a dangerous Hampton team, followed by a stretch of six straight ACC contests, with their third straight win.

Next for Terps

Matchup:No. 22 Maryland (7-3) vs. Hampton (5-3)

Site:Comcast Center, College Park

When:Wednesday, 8 p.m.

Radio:WBAL (1090 AM)

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