Terps crush American in opener

Young team rolls, 79-48

UM built 35-8 lead at half, led by as many as 44 points

College Basketball

November 23, 2003|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- If the inexperienced, unproven Maryland Terrapins were nervous last night, they failed to show it while dishing out two hours of pain to a helpless neighbor.

Poor American University, which is a 25-minute drive away in Washington, had no chance at Comcast Center. Before an announced sellout crowd, the Terps, full of youth, exuberance and far too much height, quickness and talent for the Eagles to handle, opened their season with a resounding 79-48 victory.

What a way for a young Maryland squad to get comfortable and gain confidence. The final score did not capture just how lopsided this affair actually was.

Using their smothering pressure defense to demoralize the Eagles, the Terps ended the contest by taking a 35-8 lead at halftime, added to that exclamation point by opening the second half with a 12-0 run, then poured it on by stretching their lead to 44 points at 66-22 with 10:21 left in the game.

Maryland, which had three players score in double figures and 10 players score overall, had much tougher times during its 1-1 showing against exhibition opponents.

"I didn't know how we were going to play. I didn't know what to expect," said Maryland coach Gary Williams, who is coaching a team dominated by sophomores and freshmen. "We were nervous. We really didn't shoot the ball well and our passing wasn't always that good. At least on defense, we were flying around. I was pleased with the defense."

The Terps figure to rely heavily on their size and athleticism at the defensive end, as they learn how to run Williams' offense. American, a Patriot League member that has only two seniors and could not match up with the Terps at any position, could barely generate a good shot during a first half in which they made only four of 27 attempts (14.8 percent).

The eight points allowed marked the fewest Maryland has surrendered in a half since the Terps beat South Carolina in overtime, 31-30, on Jan. 9, 1971. On that day, the Terps took a 4-3 lead into halftime.

But this is the shot clock era. No matter. Maryland's defense smothered American from the opening tip and allowed the Eagles to make 17 of 62 attempts.

While Maryland struggled at times generating offense, the Terps finished by shooting 45.2 percent. Much of that came from easy baskets sparked by their defense, which forced 23 turnovers and permitted just nine American assists.

"That's the tone we needed to set from the jump ball," Maryland point guard John Gilchrist said. "We were coming off a crushing loss [in the exhibition finale]. We came into tonight with a lot of anger, and we needed to blow off some steam."

Senior center Jamar Smith led the Terps with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Smith scored 12 points in the first half. Sophomore guard Chris McCray and freshman guard Mike Jones had 10 points apiece. Sophomore forwards Travis Garrison and Nik Caner-Medley each finished with nine points and eight rebounds.

"At one point [in the first half], I didn't even realize what the score was," Smith said. "Then I looked up at the scoreboard and said, `Oh man, our defense must be playing real good.' "

The only respectable spots for American were guards Andres Rodriguez (13 points) and Andre Ingram (16 points). But even they were invisible throughout that nightmarish first half.

How bad was it? Rodriguez scored the Eagles' first basket on an 8-foot runner to tie the score at 2-2 with 18:29 left, and that was it for American's scoring for nearly 15 minutes, while the Terps would ring up 27 unanswered points.

Not that Maryland's offense was sharp early. Caner-Medley scored seven points to put the Terps in front 9-2 five minutes into the game, but neither team scored for almost four minutes after that.

Maryland's defense never wavered, and the Terps finally broke through American's 2-3 zone defense behind Smith, who went on a personal 8-0 run to make it 17-2 with 9:02 left in the half. At that point, American had missed 18 of 19 shots, turned the ball over nine times and missed all seven of its three-point attempts.

American Min. FG FT Reb Ast PF Pts.

Draughn 27 4-11 0-0 8 1 2 8 Cresnik 22 0-3 0-0 2 0 1 0 Petrauskas 15 1-3 0-0 5 1 3 2 Rodriguez 36 5-12 0-0 3 2 2 13 Ingram 30 4-15 4-4 5 3 0 16 Lewis 5 0-2 0-0 2 0 0 0 Thomas 14 0-2 0-0 5 0 4 0 Graham 1 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 Caterina 13 0-3 0-0 2 0 0 0 Kohl 3 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 Okpwae 16 1-5 0-0 4 1 1 2 Lekavicius 18 2-5 2-3 0 1 3 7

Totals 200 17-62 6-7 36 9 16 48

Percentages: FG-.274, FT-.857. 3-point goals: 8-24, .333 (Cresnik 0-2, Rodriguez 3-7, Ingram 4-8, Lewis 0-2, Thomas 0-1, Graham 0-1, Caterina 0-1, Lekavicius 1-2). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 2 (Okpwae, Draughn). Turnovers: 23 (Rodriguez 7, Draughn 4, Lekavicius 4, Ingram 3, Thomas 2, Caterina 2, Okpwae). Steals: 6 (Draughn 2, Ingram 2, Okpwae, Lekavicius).

Maryland Min. FG FT Reb Ast PF Pts.

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