COLLEGE PARK - The Maryland Terrapins wanted to tune up for their Atlantic Coast Conference men's basketball opener with authority, and neighboring UMBC offered little resistance last night at Comcast Center, where the Terps pounded the Retrievers over the last 25 minutes and rolled to a 101-60 victory before an announced crowd of 17,602.
Led by senior center Ryan Randle, who scored a career-high 21 points and recorded the first 11 points of the second half by himself to turn a 45-28 halftime lead into a rout, the No. 23 Terps had six players score in double figures.
Maryland (5-3), which had lost three of its previous four games - all to teams currently ranked - now sets its sights on visiting Georgia Tech on Sunday.
The Terps were without senior forward Tahj Holden, who attended funeral services in New Jersey last night after a death in his family. That did not stop Maryland from handling the Retrievers (3-4) with ease, especially after coach Gary Williams drew his first technical foul in nearly two years with 5:01 left in the first half.
Up to that point, the Terps had lacked fire while maintaining a 26-19 lead. After the technical, Maryland responded in kind.
"I wanted to make sure [the players] know I'm very serious about this game; I'm very serious about this year, about playing hard. I think I got their attention," Williams said. "You don't just want to win. You want to look a certain way. I think we had a good look tonight."
Maryland took command after that, pounding the ball inside, forcing 23 UMBC turnovers and wearing out the Retrievers in transition, on the boards and at the free-throw line. The Terps converted 23 of 35 foul shots.
"We wanted to get a big win going into the Christmas break. We looked like we were enjoying the game out there," said Terps point guard Steve Blake, who became the 23rd player in NCAA history to record 800 career assists during an 11-point, nine-assist night. He is at 806.
The Terps flexed plenty of muscle behind Randle, who was unstoppable inside. Senior guard Drew Nicholas had 15 points and a season-high seven assists. Freshman forward Nik Caner-Medley had 11 points and eight rebounds. Junior forward Jamar Smith (12 points) and senior guard Calvin McCall (11 points) each scored career highs.
P.J. Hatcher led the Retrievers with 15 points. Justin Wilson added 14 points.
Travis Garrison (eight points, eight rebounds), making his first start in Holden's place, joined Caner-Medley in the starting lineup, marking the first time Maryland started two freshmen since March 16, 2000, against Iona in the first round of the NCAA tournament, when Blake and Holden took the floor together.
And with Holden absent, Williams dug even deeper into his bench than he originally had planned. Seven minutes into the game, freshman guard Chris McCray and Smith already had played. Nine minutes in, only one senior, McCall, was on the floor.
Maryland looked rusty and sloppy in the first half against the scrappy Retrievers, who surrendered a good amount of size and quickness, rarely could get off a good shot, yet still battled the Terps enough to stay near them for the game's first 15 minutes.
The Terps started to shake UMBC early by going on a 10-1 run to open up a 21-11 lead with 9:35 left in the first half. Caner-Medley, who scored the game's first four points, started the run with a slam. Blake, McCray, Garrison and Randle scored during the spurt as well.
But UMBC, using its milk-the-clock approach on offense and taking advantage of a spate of Maryland turnovers, pulled to within 21-17 on a three-point play by Wilson, then cut Maryland's lead to 23-19 with 5:30 left in the half.
Then, shortly after Nicholas padded the Terps' lead with a three-pointer, Williams drew his first technical foul since Feb. 10, 2001, at North Carolina. Wilson hurt the Retrievers by missing both free throws, and the Terps responded with a 19-9 run to close out the half, taking a commanding 45-28 lead at the break.
Maryland only needed three minutes to put the game completely out of reach after that, and Randle took care of the chore with a personal 11-0 run to start the second half.
"I was just running the court, and Drew and Blake were making really good passes to get it inside," said Randle, who also led all Terps with nine rebounds and three steals, barely missing his third career double double.
NOTE: Former Terps center Mike Mardesich, who is playing professionally in France and was a backup on the Maryland team that went to the school's first Final Four in 2001, attended last night's game.