COLLEGE PARK -- Now that the season is four games old, what exactly does coach Gary Williams know about his Maryland basketball team besides the obvious, that the Terrapins can bully the likes of Howard and Chicago State until the lights go out?
Williams had more examining to do last night after the Terps (4-0) had beaten UMBC, 67-31, before 8,204 at Cole Field House, leaving their average margin of victory at 35.2 points.
And leaving their coach wondering what it all means.
For starters, there was this:
"I think they like each other, which is important. A lot of teams don't like each other," said Williams, whose squad gets its sternest test to date when it plays California on Sunday afternoon at USAir Arena in the opening round of the Franklin National Bank Classic.
"We're finding out if we pass the ball well, we're a pretty good shooting team. We also found out that we're not going to just score because we're out on the floor."
Maryland's final tuneup before getting into the meatier portion of its schedule was tougher than expected, at least for a half.
UMBC (0-3) had the pace it wanted, something far short of the breakneck speed with which the Terps ran over Chicago State in a 50-point blowout two nights earlier. It didn't crumble under some intense defensive pressure, benefited from Maryland's sloppy play and trailed by only four points until being outscored 7-0 in the last minute.
Laron Profit jammed a lob pass from Terrell Stokes and made a layup off a feed from Keith Booth after a UMBC turnover, and Sarunas Jasikevicius hit a three-pointer with two seconds left for a 29-18 lead -- Maryland's biggest of the half.
From there, the Terps really took command, opening the second half with a 10-2 run that included six points from Booth. Counting the late surge before halftime, Maryland outscored UMBC 45-13.
It was the fewest points allowed by Maryland since the 1970-71 season when it won, 31-30, over South Carolina before the 35-second clock was adopted.
Though the Terps didn't look like the team that had averaged 93.3 points in their first three games, it was a marked improvement over how they started out.
Obinna Ekezie lost hold of an uncontested rebound, giving UMBC possession. Jasikevicius cut underneath the basket and Profit hit him with a sharp pass -- in the middle of the back. Stokes missed a layup, then was yanked from the game for 1: 19 after answering Williams' command to "push it" by saying, "I did."
UMBC took an 8-7 lead on a three-point play by Alhamisi Simms, and freshman Isaac Green's tip-in gave the Retrievers their largest margin, and a fleeting one. Rodney Elliott made a short baseline jumper and Profit slammed a lob pass from Stokes -- fast becoming Maryland's favorite play -- and the Terps moved ahead for good.
"This is the first time somebody tried to control the shot clock against us, and it did bother us in the first half. It made us impatient on the offensive end," Williams said. "For whatever reason, mentally, we felt tired to start the game. And the fact they would take some time off the clock added to that. But then we just put that aside."
Booth led Maryland with 15 points, and Profit had 13. Jasikevicius added 12 points and five assists.
For UMBC, the shooting woes that led to season-opening losses at home to Loyola College and Towson State continued last night. Only four Retrievers had field goals, and the team went 10-for-40 from the field -- including 2-for-13 from beyond the arc -- while scoring its fewest points since moving up to Division I 11 years ago.
Pub Date: 12/05/96