No paradise for Terps

Turnovers halt UM bid to upset No. 8 Gonzaga in Hawaii opener

Gonzaga 88, Maryland 76

November 22, 2005|By HEATHER A. DINICH | HEATHER A. DINICH,SUN REPORTER

LAHAINA,Hawaii -- Dressed in khakis and a cream Hawaiian button-down, Maryland coach Gary Williams at least looked relaxed yesterday. His demeanor following the Terrapins' 88-76 loss to No. 8-ranked Gonzaga indicated otherwise.

Williams was clearly disgruntled with his team's 23 turnovers, which dropped the 23rd-ranked Terps (1-1) into the losers' bracket of the Maui Invitational. Maryland will play at 1:30 p.m. today against host school Chaminade (0-1), a Division II program in Honolulu that lost, 89-67, yesterday to Michigan State. In Hawaii time, that means the Terps will tip off at 8:30 a.m. here.

"Overall, we have to win games like this if we expect to be considered a very good team," Williams said. "I've been there and I know what it takes. These are the types of games you have to get, and we were not able to get this one."

Asked if his players would be available for interviews after the loss, Williams said tersely, "No, they're going back to the hotel. They have to play at 8:30 tomorrow morning."

He immediately got into a rented maroon Ford Mustang and was driven back to the Westin Maui just a few miles up the road.

For only the second game of the season, though, it was an up-tempo, physical and entertaining game that was tied five times and had four lead changes. The intensity was heightened by the intimacy of the tiny, 2,400-seat Lahaina Civic Center, a Maui County municipal recreation gym that is across the street and less than 1,000 yards from the Pacific Ocean.

Roughly 200 Maryland fans packed two sets of bleachers, and seemingly all of them rose to their feet when starting point guard D.J. Strawberry's basket on a breakaway layup tied the game at 60 with 9:23 remaining. At the same time, Strawberry's right calf cramped up and it continued to nag him the rest of the game.

In response, Gonzaga center J.P. Batista and guard Derek Raivio combined to score 10 unanswered points, and Maryland never recovered from that 70-60 deficit. Batista and Raivio totaled 45 of Gonzaga's points. And despite double-teaming him on occasion, there was little the Terps could do to contain forward Adam Morrison, a preseason All-American who scored a game-high 25 points and nine rebounds.

"I kept trying to go to the same thing I did the whole year - curl, get inside, get to my mid-range game and let the game come to me," Morrison said. "That's what we did in the second half, let the game come to us."

Leading 80-71 with 1:08 remaining, Gonzaga made eight of nine free throws while Maryland's only basket came from senior guard Chris McCray, who led the Terps with 18 points and four steals. Both McCray and senior forward Nik Caner-Medley turned the ball over six times.

Gonzaga coach Mark Few said the difference in the game was his team's ability to handle the ball in the second half.

"We just took a lot better care of the basketball, which is not an easy task against Maryland," said Few, whose team had 12 turnovers at halftime and finished with 17. "They are so disruptive on the defensive end, that's not easy to do."

Maryland's defense was stingy in the first half, holding Gonzaga to 37 percent shooting from the field, and 14.3 percent from three-point range. McCray had all of his steals in the first half. His three-point shot with 4:48 left in the first half cut Gonzaga's lead to 27-26, and McCray slapped Williams' hand on the sideline.

Maryland trailed by as many as nine points in the first half, but the emotion never dissipated.

The Terps played catch-up until center Will Bowers tipped in a shot Strawberry missed with 2:50 remaining in the first half, putting Maryland ahead 30-29 for its first lead of the game. Strawberry, who had 16 points and four assists, punctuated the lead with a one-handed dunk off a steal, and Maryland went to the locker room with a precarious 34-33 edge.

Trailing 49-48 with 14:41 to play, Maryland starting forward Ekene Ibekwe regained the lead with an alley-oop dunk off an assist from Caner-Medley. It was Maryland's final lead of the game.

Gonzaga's final nine points of the first half were all free throws, as the Bulldogs were unable to score a field goal for the final eight minutes. In the end, though, they were able to score 28 points off Maryland's turnovers.

"We had chances we didn't convert," Williams said. "We weren't good with the ball. You turn it over 23 times against a team as good as Gonzaga, you're in trouble."

heather.dinich@baltsun.com

No. 23 Maryland vs. Chaminade Maui Invitational, today, 1:30 p.m., 1300 AM, 105.7 FM

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