1st-half cushion eases Terps' way

23-point lead fades, but Caner-Medley lifts UM to 4th straight win

No. 16 Maryland 68 / Delaware State 54

December 29, 2005|By HEATHER DINICH

COLLEGE PARK - On Tuesday, Maryland senior forward Nik Caner-Medley said it's not important to him to repeat his role as the team's leading scorer.

Sometimes, though, it might be necessary.

That was the case last night, when Caner-Medley scored a team-high 16 points to lead the No. 16 Terps to a 68-54 win over Delaware State before 17,950 at Comcast Center.

With six minutes left in the game, Caner-Medley was the only player on the Terps' roster who had reached double digits, and the defendingMid-Eastern Athletic Conference champions at one point had cutMaryland's 23-point halftime lead to 10.

"They deserve a lot of credit for the way they played tonight in terms of coming out in the second half and outplaying us in the second half," coach GaryWilliams said of the Hornets. "We thought it would automatically be that way in the second half. It doesn't work thatway."

The Terps (9-2) hung on, though, to win their second of four nonconference games before starting the heart of the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule Jan. 7 in Miami.

In the end, four Maryland players reached double figures, including junior forward Ekene Ibekwe, who earned his second straight double double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Williams, who is six wins shy of becoming Maryland's all-time winningest coach, earned his 550th career win. The Terps improved to 4-0 all-time against Delaware State (2-9) and have won four straight games.

"I'm proud of what I've done as a coach, but at the same time I don't get caught up," Williams said. "The longer you're at a place, the more games you're going to win if you get the thing rolling pretty good. It's 17 years now. You know what to expect when you knowa place pretty well."

Senior guard Chris McCray didn't start last night because he missed a team meeting. He had started every other game except Dec. 7 against Western Carolina, when he didn't play because of an injured left ankle.

Junior guard Mike Jones started in his place last night and scored three points. McCray finished with 11.

After Maryland's 81-55 drubbing of American on Friday, Caner- Medley said the Terps' defense was in midseason form, and last night - thanks in part to him - they continued to look ahead of schedule.

Caner-Medley had five of Maryland's eight first-half steals, and the Hornets turned the ball over 11 times. Delaware State shot just 25 percent from the field in the first half, and made just five baskets.

Ibekwe, who averaged 17.3 points and 8.7 rebounds in the previous three games, scored three consecutive baskets - including two dunks - to keep Maryland ahead early at 9-4.

The Terps used a 10-0 run, though, to pull ahead 19-6 and never looked back.

Williams, still visibly frustrated at times with the learning process at point guard, yelled at backup Parrish Brown, "Parrish, get out!" with just under eightminutes left in the half and put D.J. Strawberry back into the lineup, but Williams said Strawberry's leg cramped up later in the game.

Junior Jahsha Bluntt was the only Hornets player to reach double figures, scoring a game-high 24 points - 20 of which came in the second half.

Delaware State is a team that concerned Williams because the Hornets have been known to control the game tempo by slowing down and running out the shot clock-which they did.

The difference in the second half, though, was that they shot 48.4 percent. It didn't help the Terps, either, that they committed nine of their 17 turnovers after halftime.

"Delaware State didn't change their effort, they just kept going, but we had a great effort in the first half," Williams said. "We couldn't match that effort in the second half."


VMI@No. 16 Maryland Saturday, 2 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, 1300 AM, 105.7 FM

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