Terps shoot by FDU in opener

Scoring beaches Knights before UM trip to Hawaii

Maryland 111 Fairleigh Dickinson 85

Terps shoot past FDU

November 19, 2005|By HEATHER A. DINICH | HEATHER A. DINICH,SUN REPORTER

COLLEGE PARK -- Less than 12 hours before boarding a plane to travel cross country and face one of the top programs in the nation, the Maryland men's basketball team first had to put Fairleigh Dickinson behind it last night in the season opener.

It took about eight minutes.

After an up and down start in which Maryland trailed three times, the Terps finally got into sync and cruised to a 111-85 win before a crowd of 17,950 at Comcast Center. Mike Jones came off the bench and scored a team-high 22 points, and Chris McCray and Nik Caner-Medley each chipped in 18.

In all, six players reached double digits for the Terps. It was the most points in a season opener since 1998, when Maryland scored 113 against Western Carolina.

"First game, you don't know what to expect," coach Gary Williams said. "You've got to get out there when it counts. I was pleased with the way our guys hung together. The offense was a shared offense. We were willing to help each other out scoring. Anytime you get that, you have a chance to score a lot of points."

There were 25 assists, flashy one-handed dunks, and four steals in the first four minutes, but it was hardly a flawless performance.

Nonetheless, it marked a 1-0 start to a season with low expectations from outsiders and high hopes for those within the program. It was also a final chance for the team to fine-tune its game and for Williams to tinker with the lineup before heading to Maui, Hawaii, where the 24th-ranked Terps will face No. 9 Gonzaga on Monday in the first round of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.

Four different point guards ran Maryland's offense, as D.J. Strawberry started but shared time with McCray, Sterling Ledbetter and Parrish Brown. McCray, who had six assists and no turnovers, said he got extended minutes at point guard yesterday.

"It's a position I'm comfortable with. I've just got to go out there and do my job," he said. "I'm still trying to learn all the plays."

Neither Williams nor his players have studied any tape of Gonzaga yet, or even discussed the Zags. (He said he'll do that on the 12-hour plane ride.) The Terps were too concerned about Fairleigh Dickinson, a team that pushed top-seeded Illinois before losing, 67-55, in last year's NCAA tournament.

The Knights (1-2), the defending Northeast Conference champions, pushed Maryland, too, at certain points.

Through the first eight minutes, Maryland never led by more than seven. Trailing 19-18 with 12:08 left in the half, Maryland used a 15-3 run to take a 33-22 lead. That was the Terps' largest lead of the first half, and one they wouldn't relinquish.

Maryland reached 50 points in a half for the first time since last year against Liberty, and headed to the locker room with a 52-42 lead.

There were enough slip-ups to cause Williams to throw his marker to the floor, sending the cap flying onto the court. Forward Ekene Ibekwe, for example, threw the ball right to John Blackgrove, whose uncontested jumper closed the gap to 35-30 with 5:17 remaining. Ibekwe was immediately replaced by center Will Bowers.

About two minutes later, Blackgrove earned a four-point play when he made a three-pointer and was fouled by Jones. It was the second time he scored a team-high points total off the bench, as he scored 19 in the first exhibition against St. Francis Xavier.

"If I get the opportunity to score, I'm going to take that chance to score," he said. "Tonight was the perfect opportunity to take the right shots and everything was there."

Maryland scored nearly half of its points in the paint, and through aggressive drives to the basket was able to draw fouls. The Terps shot 84.2 percent from the line on 32 of 38 attempts.

Maryland opened the second half with a 13-2 run for a comfortable 65-44 lead with about 16 minutes remaining. McCray punctuated the run with a two-handed dunk that brought the crowd to its feet.

By the waning minutes of the game, the entire roster had seen playing time. Brown, a junior transfer from Chicago, got his chance at running the team with 13 minutes remaining, when Maryland had a comfortable 78-52 lead. And when the Terps reached the 100-point mark with about five minutes left, freshman Dave Neal saw some playing time. Even Gini Chukura, a second-string walk-on from Silver Spring whose main role is to help the players improve at practice, got in the game.

McCray scored 12 of his points in the first half, and Jones came off the bench to add 10 in the same period.

Jones said the team can be confident from its performance heading into Maui.

"We still have to step up our defense a little more," he said, "but other than that, we tend to execute our plays, we made great passes the second half, and as a team we know what it takes."

Score:

Maryland 111

Fairleigh Dickenson 85

heather.dinich@baltsun.com

Today's Game

Boston College (7-3, 4-3) @Maryland (5-4, 3-3)

Time -- Noon

TV/Radio -- Chs. 13, 20/1300 AM, 105.7 FM

Line -- Boston College by 2 1/2

Series -- 1-1; this will be the first time the teams have met as conference opponents

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