Terps tune up, drive off Mount

89-56 rout allows Williams to work on ACC flaws, push to always play hard

January 04, 2004|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - While watching his team easily dismantle Mount St. Mary's at Comcast Center yesterday, Maryland men's basketball coach Gary Williams prowled the sideline, barked instructions, scolded players on the floor and on the bench, all the while determined to coax an all-out effort from the Terrapins.

The Terps delivered an 89-56 rout before an announced sellout crowd of 17,950. They led from wire to wire and had four players score in double figures. They slapped the Mountaineers around on the boards in the second half, stifled their shooters all day, and held Mount St. Mary's (2-9) without a field goal for the game's final nine minutes. They even made 62.1 percent of their free-throw attempts.

What Maryland (8-3) failed to do was please Williams for all 40 minutes. First, the Terps let an early 17-point lead slip to a 41-31 advantage late in the first half, before extending the margin to 48-34 at halftime.

Then Maryland got the home crowd rocking with a 13-2 run to open the second half and remove any hint of suspense from the proceedings. But, to get an idea of Williams' mind-set - the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule resumes in 10 days against visiting North Carolina - consider the coach's reaction after the Terps broke down while running a play with a 61-39 lead and 16:32 left in the game.

Williams called a 30-second timeout, which was all he needed to get his point across during an animated, one-way conversation.

"We judge how hard we have to play, and that's got to stop," Williams said. "You judge what's a good shot, whether you have to pass, not whether you have to play hard or not. We've got a couple of guys who watch a lot of NBA games, if you know what I mean.

"I liked our intensity level in the second half. What we have to do now is get that for 40 minutes and we'll be OK. We put together sequences when we play really good defense and run a very good offensive play and really get on the glass. We just have to string those sequences together for a longer period of time."

Following the tongue-lashing, only a scoring flurry by Mountaineers guard Antonio Johnson, a cousin of Maryland sophomore point guard John Gilchrist, kept Maryland from running away early. But after Johnson scored the last of his team-high 13 points - all in the second half - on an 18-footer with 8:59 left to trim Maryland's lead to 71-54, the Terps finished on a ferocious note by scoring 18 unanswered points.

"You can't play down to the level of your competition. You've got to find motivation within yourself," said Gilchrist, who led the Terps with 16 points on 5-for-7 shooting and added six assists and six rebounds. "You can't let the crowd energize you. You have to go out there because you love the game and you love to play. I think we're starting to believe it's a 40-minute game."

It was a good day for the Terps to restore some confidence. Six days after suffering through scoring droughts and concentration lapses and swallowing defeat in their ACC opener at Florida State, they got to feast on an opponent that barely has slipped by Navy and Loyola.

Sophomore guard Chris McCray scored 15 points, including 12 in the first half. Senior center Jamar Smith recorded his eighth double double with 14 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. Sophomore forward Nik Caner-Medley added 14 points and four rebounds. Gilchrist went 3-for-3 from three-point range, sparking a 7-for-13 showing by Maryland from beyond the arc.

The Terps also gave their starters a bit of a rest, as only Caner-Medley exceeded 30 minutes of playing time. That allowed reserves such as freshman forward Ekene Ibekwe and freshman guard Mike Jones to shine.

Jones scored nine points and had three rebounds in 13 minutes. But Ibekwe, 6 feet 9, towered over the smaller Mountaineers, although he did miss six of nine foul shots. During a career-high 22 minutes, Ibekwe scored nine points, grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds and blocked a career-high four shots.

"[Ibekwe] is very close to 6-10 and very quick with it," Williams said. "What he doesn't have yet is strength, but that will come. He has that little different gear that a lot of players his size don't have."

The Terps threw that kind of gear at the Mountaineers in the second half. Maryland out-rebounded them 31-16, held them to 25 percent shooting, forced 10 turnovers, and outscored them in the paint by a 22-2 count.

"I thought we battled in spurts, and we can't do that against a team like this," Mount St. Mary's coach Milan Brown said. "It's tough enough as it is."

Next for Terps

Matchup: UMES (0-6) vs. Maryland (8-3)

Site: Comcast Center, College Park

When: Tuesday, 8 p.m.

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

Maryland Min. FG FT Reb Ast PF Pts.

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