COLLEGE PARK -- The Maryland Terrapins unveiled their new, youthful face with predictably mixed results last night at Comcast Center, but a victory tastes sweet even during the exhibition season.
Before an announced crowd of 17,146, Maryland led off by leaning on its veterans, who delivered nicely to carry the Terps to an 84-70 victory over the EA Sports All-Stars.
Sophomore forward Nik Caner-Medley, the most experienced returning player for Maryland, played like it while scoring a game-high 20 points on 8-for-9 shooting, grabbing seven rebounds and adding four assists and four blocked shots in 30 excellent minutes.
Sophomore point guard John Gilchrist finished with 16 points on 7-for-8 shooting, eight assists, seven rebounds and only three turnovers. Sophomore guard Chris McCray had 13 points and six rebounds. Senior center Jamar Smith added 14 points and seven rebounds.
Maryland let a 40-24 lead nearly slip away at the end of the first half, but it responded with an early, second-half spurt to turn a 42-39 halftime lead into a 52-41 lead in the first two minutes, then held off EA Sports and closed out the contest over the game's final eight minutes.
Guard Tezale Archie led EA Sports with 17 points. Forward Josh Murray finished with 16 points.
"When you play these games, you're trying to find out about your offense and your defense. You're also trying to find out about your heart," Maryland coach Gary Williams said.
"When you lose momentum, it's hard to regain momentum. We went after it pretty good in the second half. We're a long way from being a really good basketball team. But [after] three weeks of practice, we're OK."
The Terps ran a variety of combinations at a smaller EA Sports (2-6) team, which had only eight players. Maryland threw in a healthy dose of three-guard sets, working in junior Andre Collins and freshmen guards D.J. Strawberry and Mike Jones, and moving McCray and Strawberry to the wing. By the midway point of the first half, 11 players, including Maryland's five-man freshman class, had been on the floor.
The Terps ran their fast break well at times, generated some easy baskets off their pressure defense and hit some jump shots. They also looked shaky enough on offense to go into a scoring drought at the end of the first half that helped EA Sports stage a 15-2 run to pull to within 42-39 at halftime.
Caner-Medley and Gilchrist were the catalysts from the opening tip. Caner-Medley, who is fully recovered from the dislocated ankle he suffered in Maryland's NCAA tournament loss to Michigan State, scored four points and blocked two shots in the opening two minutes. He shot 6-for-6 in the first half, hit a three-pointer and a medium-range jumper en route to a 13-point first half.
Gilchrist broke down EA Sports' man-to-man defense and found soft spots in their 2-3 zone while making four of his first five shots and scoring eight first-half points.
The Terps out-rebounded EA Sports, 50-36, had 22 assists and shot 49.3 percent from the field. Eleven different Terps scored.
"We treated this game like a real game," Caner-Medley said. "We're taking strides to get better every time we get on the court."
NOTE: Maryland signed Good Counsel High School (Wheaton) forward James Gist to a letter of intent yesterday. Gist, a top 40 power forward prospect who will join the Terps next fall, averaged 14.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks last year for the Falcons. Gist, 6 feet 8, orally committed to the Terps last spring.
EA SPORTS ALL-STARS -- Murray 7-14, 2-3 16, Parker 1-10 0-0 2, Roberts 5-7 1-3 11, Archie 6-15 2-2 17, Harris 2-7 4-7 9, Hicks 1-4 5-5 8, McMurray 0-4 0-0 0, Moten 2-8 1-2 7. Totals 24-69 15-22 70. MARYLAND -- Garrison 1-7 3-4 5, Caner-Medley 8-9 3-3 20, Smith 6-14 2-8 14, Gilchrist 7-8 2-4 16, McCray 5-11 2-2 13, Collins 1-4 0-0 2, Strawberry 2-3 0-0 4, Grinnon 0-0 0-0 0, Jones 1-3 0-0 2, Ibekwe 1-5 2-2 4, Bowers 1-2 0-0 2, Fofana 1-3 0-1 2. Totals 34-69 14-24 84. Half: Maryland, 42-39. 3-point field goals: EA Sports All-Stars 7-25 (Archie 3-9, Moten 2-5, Harris 1-2, Hicks 1-1, McMurray 0-2, Murray 0-3, Parker 0-3); M 2-9 (McCray 1-2, Caner-Medley 1-1, Collins 0-1, Garrison 0-1, Ibekwe 0-1, Smith 0-1, Jones 0-2). Rebounds: EASAS 36 (Murray, Parker 9); M 50 (Garrison 11). Assists: EASAS 8 (Archie 4); M 22 (Gilchrist 8). Total fouls: EASAS 21, M 16. A: 17,146.
Next for Terps
Matchup: NBDL-Fayetteville vs. Maryland (exhibition)
Site: Comcast Center, College Park
When: Tuesday, 8 p.m.
TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/ WBAL (1090 AM)