COLLEGE PARK -- Chicago State coach Craig Hodges missed last night's game against Maryland after being granted a leave of absence. Maybe he knew what was coming.
The first meeting between these schools produced the Terrapins' third blowout this season. Junior guard Sarunas Jasikevicius scored a career-high 20 points, sophomore guard Laron Profit grabbed a career-best 12 rebounds to go with 13 points, and Maryland took a 94-44 victory before an announced crowd of 10,602 at Cole Field House.
The 0-3 Cougars, winners of only two games a year ago, were just trying not to be embarrassed. It wasn't easy.
Junior forward Rosager Parker made Chicago State's first two baskets, but 3: 32 elapsed between them. The game was decided during that span, as Maryland (3-0) ran off 12 points and ran away from the Cougars.
Jasikevicius fed junior center Obinna Ekezie for a dunk, made a layup off a pass from Keith Booth during a two-on-two break, and hit a three-pointer after a Chicago State timeout. And in the end, his streak of Maryland winning every time he starts -- albeit only five times during his career -- was still intact.
"This feels great. I'm enjoying playing right now more than I probably ever did in my life," said Jasikevicius, a native of Lithuania who made two starts last season.
"I just figure I need to do my part, whatever it takes. If one night the team needs me to shoot from outside, I'll do that. Tonight, they were leaving me kind of wide open and I'm not supposed to miss those kinds of shots that I made."
"He had a great summer playing overseas with Lithuania's under-22 team," said Maryland coach Gary Williams, whose bench contributed 31 points. "Our first day of practice, he looked real good. All the scrimmage stats, he was always right there, as good as any of our players. He earned the right to start and he's taking advantage of it. He knows how to compete."
So does senior forward Booth, who collected his 17th double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. He moved past Larry Gibson into 22nd place on Maryland's all-time scoring list (1,206), and past Kevin McLinton into fifth place among steal leaders (137).
Sophomore guard Terrell Stokes added 10 points, six assists and four steals. Rashaan Mitchell led Chicago State, which shot 24 percent (16-for-66), with 16 points.
The real winner last night might have been Hodges, who is busy pursuing a lawsuit against the NBA and was spared the massacre, which unfolded as Maryland built an 18-2 lead.
He missed, among other things, his team holding Maryland without a field goal for 5: 38 in the first half and still being outscored 4-3.
And senior forward Kory Billips, his top returning player, twice shot an air ball from the foul line, with the ball going wide to the left as well as coming up short.
The Cougars made only six field goals in the first half, shot 22 percent and went into the locker room down 50-19.
If only they could have stayed there.
"Basically, we just wanted to come out and prove we could compete," said assistant coach Phil Gary, who is filling in for Hodges. "We were kind of mesmerized -- by the gym, by the crowd. We had a couple of kids who had never been on a plane, and we hit some turbulence."
He meant before tip-off, not after.
"People sometimes think it's automatic that you'll just play well or whatever," Williams said, "but with three sophomores and a junior out there in the starting lineup, we're learning how to play together. We're just trying to get better, and we'll see exactly how we're improving as time goes by."
So far this season, Williams has seen the Terps defeat Howard, Towson State and Chicago State by an average margin of 35 points.
"I thought we really did a good job with our approach to these teams in late November and early December, but whether that makes us a good team or not, we don't know that," he said.
Booth's final points last night came with 2: 20 remaining, when he dunked off a lob pass from senior guard Matt Raydo, who ignored the crowd's chants to shoot the ball.
Soon after, freshman guard Atman Smith (Dunbar) and sophomore guard Matt Hahn (Atholton) removed their warm-ups and checked in -- the last two Maryland players to get into the game.
They couldn't be stopped either. Hahn cut into the lane and bounced a pass to Smith for a layup with four seconds remaining that provided the final margin. Hahn was the only Maryland player not to score, but he made sure every Terp contributed at least an assist or a point.
"We were overwhelmed," Gary said.
Pub Date: 12/03/96