Terps start slow, win

Up 4 at half on W. Carolina, UM rebounds after loss

Maryland 87, Western Carolina 57


COLLEGE PARK -- In only its eighth game of a long, cold season, the Maryland men's basketball team already looked worn last night, as it fell behind - again - to an opponent it outmatched in size and athleticism.

The Terps" leading scorer was sidelined with an injury, another starter wore a black brace for a bruised thigh, and coach Gary Williams screamed in the first half as his team trailed Western Carolina, a 5-6 team from the Southern Conference that has only won two games against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents in 38 tries.

With senior guard Chris McCray sidelined with an injured left ankle, the No. 21 Terps allowed Western Carolina to hang around before Ekene Ibekwe and D.J. Strawberry combined to score 19 points in a second-half run that ended in an 87-57 rout. Senior forward Travis Garrison led Maryland with 23 points and 14 rebounds, the bulk of which was accumulated in the first half.

Their bodies and their egos were bruised following Monday night's loss to No. 19 George Washington in the BB&T Classic at MCI Center. It was a concern of Williams heading into the game, and remained one through the first half.

"It wasn't like they weren't trying in the first half." Williams said. "We just couldn't make good plays. The mental part of it is tough sometimes after a tough loss, and you have to get rid of that somehow. Sometimes you have to look bad to come back from that. The next game, you"re not going to play well early."

After heading to the locker room with what seemed to be a precarious 39-35 lead, Maryland outscored Western Carolina 25-10 in the start of the second half to pull away to a 64-45 lead.

It was Maryland's final game before opening conference play against league newcomer Boston College on Sunday. It was also the fourth time this season Maryland pulled itself out of a first-half deficit to win.

McCray, who leads the Terps with an average of 17.1 points, reinjured his left ankle in Monday's loss to George Washington and did not play. Junior guard Mike Jones started in his place, and senior Sterling Ledbetter and junior Parrish Brown also worked their way into the rotation, spelling Strawberry at point guard.

At one point in the first half, Williams screamed in Strawberry's face.

"I just make mental mistakes sometimes." said Strawberry, who had four points in the first half - all free throws. "Sometimes I throw the ball away and it's my fault. He knows I'm too good of a player to do that."

Maryland never led by more than five points against a team the Terps were favored to beat by 25 points. The game was tied four times in the first half, and the Terps trailed by as many as three points with 8:32 remaining.

Garrison started for the second time this season in place of James Gist, who wore a black brace on his right leg after injuring his hamstring Monday. Although Gist was eventually inserted into the lineup, Garrison made the most of his opportunity with 16 points and 14 rebounds in the first half.

Garrison's basket at the 13:38 mark was the Terps" last field goal for about seven minutes when he ended the drought with a basket that tied the game at 24. He was the only player for Maryland to score more than six points in the first half, as the Terps were 13-for-29 from the field.

Western Carolina junior guard Kyle Greathouse, who made five of his team's school-record 14 three-pointers in their 80-64 win over UNC-Asheville on Saturday, made all three of his three-point attempts in the first half against the Terps. His back-to-back three-pointers in less than a minute put Western Carolina ahead 19-18 with 9:26 remaining in the first half.

The Terps made just one of five three-point attempts before intermission, and it came from senior Nik Caner-Medley with less than a second on the clock. The basket sent Maryland to the locker room with a 39-35 edge.


No. 6 Boston College@No. 21 Maryland Sunday, 8 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, 1300 AM, 105.7 FM

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