Terps emerge, top G. Mason, 79-64

Caner-Medley's 23 help UM solve 2nd-half deficit to unheralded Patriots

November 26, 2003|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Gary Williams has said repeatedly that the Maryland Terrapins are too much of a mystery to asume that victory is at hand, regardless of the opponent.

Last night at Comcast Center, the Terps made their coach look like a prophet for an extended period of tension against visiting George Mason, which pushed Maryland for the first 30 minutes of an entertaining contest.

In the end, Maryland's interior strength, defensive tenacity and winning pedigree was enough to push the Terps to a hard-earned, 79-64 victory before 17,950.

The Terps (2-0) had to sweat big time for this one against a neighboring opponent that has been a thorn in Maryland's side in the past. George Mason, a member of the Patriot League, stayed in hot pursuit of the Terps throughout the first half, and actually took a 47-43 lead with 17:18 left in the contest.

But over the last 11 minutes, the Terps, with sparks from sophomore forward Nik Caner-Medley, senior center Jamar Smith and guards John Gilchrist and D.J. Strawberry, put down a spirited upset effort by the Patriots.

Caner-Medley finished with a career-high 23 points. Smith earned his second double double of the season with 19 points and 13 rebounds, both career highs. Strawberry scored all nine of his points and recorded all four of his steals in the second half. And Gilchrist, who yielded his starting spot at the point to junior Andre Collins after an unspecified violation of team rules, scored 11 points, all in the second half.

"It was a great win for us. We had to dig down. I'm starting to like these guys. They compete like that in practice." said Williams, who watched Maryland struggle mightily in the early going while trying to puncture George Mason's 2-3 zone and contain the Patriots" shooters.

Backup forward Jai Lewis led the Patriots with 17 points and eight rebounds, and guards Terry Reynolds (10 points), Lamar Butler (eight points) and Mark Davis (15 points) did the rest.

"We go through stretches where we"re playing well and we just think we"re going to continue playing well. It's the effort that makes us play well." Caner- Medley said. "You have to respect George Mason. They came in and gave us a real good run. But once we started clicking in the second half and got the lead back, there was no doubt in my mind we were going to win."

Both teams came out at a blistering pace, with the points piling up in a hurry on both sides. George Mason showed no ill effects from having minimal time to warm up, after the Patriots got caught in a beltway traffic jam and did not arrive until 45 minutes before tip-off.

Maryland was able to take a 41-38 halftime lead mainly because it countered some deadly George Mason shooting with a major height advantage down low.

McCray scored six of Maryland's first eight points on a pair of layups and an 18-footer, pushing the Terps to an 8-5 lead.

The Patriots quickly responded in the form of 5-9 point guard Reynolds, who made three consecutive pull-up, mid- range jumpers to pull George Mason to within 13-11.

Maryland re-asserted itself by running its break crisply and asserting itself inside, where Caner-Medley and Travis Garrison grabbed offensive rebounds and scored on tip-ins. Caner-Medley then scored on a fast-break layup to make it 19-14 with 14:08 remaining in the half. After Reynolds buried a 12-foot jumper to cut the lead to 19-16, the Terps finally opened some breathing room with a 13-4 run.

Maryland's big men took over during the run. Smith started it by making a three-pointer. Caner-Medley followed by freezing a Patriots defender with a cross- over move and making a layup. Following a George Mason timeout, freshman forward Ebene Ibekwe scored on a putback, making it 26-16.

After a four-point flurry by the Patriots, the Terps ran off six straight points, four by Caner-Medley, giving Maryland a 32-20 lead with 8:08 left in the half. But George Mason, trailing 38-29, refused to go away.

The Patriots charged back with a 9-3 run in the last 3:40 to end the half.

Guard Lamar Butler led the way, first with a slam, then with a free throw. After Caner-Medley took a perfect touch pass from Garrison and converted a three- pointer to make it 41-32 with 1:37 left, Butler and guard Mark Davis each hit threes.

Butler's came with 29 seconds left and sent Maryland off the floor clinging to a 41-38 lead.

GEORGE MASON - Heinen 3-9 1-2 8, Davis 6-15 1-2 15, Cooper 1-2 0-0 2, Reynolds 5-9 0-0 10, Butler 2-11 2-2 8, Skinn 1-5 0-0 2, Norwood 0-1 0-0 0, Tynes 0-0 0-0 0, Urbina 0-0 0-0 0, Mickens 0-2 2-2 2, Lewis 7-11 3-3 17. Totals 25-65 9-11 64.

MARYLAND - Garrison 2-8 1-2 5, Caner-Medley 10-16 2-2 23, Smith 9-19 0-0 19, Collins 1-3 0-0 2, McCray 3-10 0-0 6, Strawberry 4-7 1-2 9, Gilchr ist 5-11 0-1 11, Henry 0-0 0-0 0, Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Ibekwe 2-2 0-1 4, Bowers 0-0 0-0 0, Fofana 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 36-76 4-8 79.

Half: Maryland, 41-38. 3-Point goals-GMason 5-17 (Davis 2-7, Butler 2-7, Heinen 1-1, Skinn 0-1, Norwood 0-1), Maryland 3-15 (Caner-Medley 1-3, Gilchrist 1-3, Smith 1-2, Collins 0-2, McCray 0-2, Strawberry 0-2, Garrison 0-1). Fouled out- None. Rebounds-GMason 36 (Lewis 8), Mary land 49 (Smith 13). Assists-GMason 12 (Butler 5), Maryland 19(Strawberry, Gilchrist 4). Total fouls-GMason 12, Maryland 11. Technicals- McRae, Davis. A-17,950.

Next for Terps

Matchup: Hofstra (1-2) vs. Maryland (2-0)

Site: Comcast Center, College Park

When: Saturday, 8 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)

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