Terps awaken, win

Chaminade scares UM before 23-0 run

Maryland 98, Chaminade 69


LAHAINA, HAWAII -- Their chance at making a national statement less than 24 hours behind them, the Maryland men's basketball team begrudgingly awoke at 6:15 a.m. here yesterday for an 8:30 a.m. tip-off against tournament host Chaminade University, a Division II team from Honolulu, in the losers' bracket of the Maui Invitational.

After relinquishing a lead and losing to No. 8-ranked Gonzaga in the opening round Monday, this was supposed to be an easy consolation prize, like winning the slow cooker instead of the shiny, new car.

But Chaminade, a school with an enrollment of only 1,100, pushed Maryland in the first half - just as it did Michigan State a day earlier - and the Terps were forced to dig out of an 11-point hole before cruising to a 98-69 win in the Lahaina Civic Center in Maui.

"We expected that at the start of the game," said Maryland coach Gary Williams, who watched Chaminade trail Michigan State by six at halftime on Monday. "They did a great job of really running at us. Until we really got intense defensively in transition, they were going to bother us.

"We did a good job finally of getting back, getting matched up, and from that point on, we had pretty much control of the game. But until we did that, that game could've gone either way, obviously."

No. 23 Maryland will face Arkansas, a 65-64 winner over Kansas, at 2 p.m. ET today for fifth place in the tournament. The game will be televised on ESPN.

In the end yesterday, Chaminade couldn't match Maryland's depth and athleticism, and the Terps' ability to press outlasted the Silverswords' attempt at an upset. (A Silversword, Chaminade coach Matt Mahar explained, is a cactus-like plant native to Hawaii. That's why the team doesn't have a mascot. "Nobody wants to dress up like a plant," he said.)

The Terps were trailing 52-51 about three minutes into the second half when they went on a 23-0 run.

Led by guard Chris McCray's game-high 17 points, five players reached double digits for Maryland. Starting forwards James Gist and Nik Caner-Medley each chipped in 16, while big men Travis Garrison and Ekene Ibekwe added 13 and 12, respectively.

None of those players, though, had more than 10 points in the first half.

Maryland scored the first basket of the game, but was unable to muster more than a three-point lead at any point in the first half. The Terps shot 39.5 percent from the field in the first half, compared with 60.6 percent in the second. With Maryland trailing 30-25 with 6:23 remaining, signs of frustration and disgust were all over guard D.J. Strawberry's face.

"We just weren't getting back on defense," said Strawberry, who had four steals, three assists and one turnover. "As a point guard, when you're the only one back on defense, it gets frustrating."

Williams chuckled about Strawberry's comment that he was the only player getting back, but then he mumbled, "it's true."

With 6:23 left in the first half, Chaminade used an 8-2 run that included a Maryland goaltending penalty to pull ahead to 38-27, its biggest lead of the game. At that point, thoughts of an upset reminiscent of the Silverswords' historic win over Virginia in 1982, and another upset against Villanova two years ago, began to creep into guard Zack Whiting's head.

"Everybody probably thinks during the game, `Oh my gosh, what if we pull this off?" especially up 11," said Whiting, who had 10 assists in the first half and finished with a game-high 14. "But this is my third year in the tournament. Every year I know they're capable of making a run, and they always do. So I have both things in the back of my mind."

Trailing 38-27 with 4:17 remaining in the first half, the Terps made all eight of their free throws down the stretch to inch within two. Strawberry whispered under his breath as he walked off the court at halftime.

He was so emotional at one point that Williams had to grab him and say "cut that out." Still, Williams said, it's not necessarily a bad thing.

"We need that," Williams said. "We've got some guys on this team that don't really show a lot of emotion. They kind of hide it. A guy like D.J. is not afraid to put it out there. I really like that from a player, especially a guard who plays a leadership position."


No. 23 Maryland vs. Arkansas Maui Invitational, today, 2 p.m., ESPN, 1300 AM, 105.7 FM

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