Terps maintain cool, light up Lafayette UM delivers intensity for full game, 108-67


COLLEGE PARK -- Before the Maryland Terrapins could pack for their trip to Honolulu and the coming Rainbow Classic, they had to attend to another matter: putting away Lafayette. And coach Gary Williams made sure they didn't fold.

Maryland, which climbed to No. 21 in this week's national rankings, avoided the kind of second-half letdown that surfaced in Saturday's seven-point win over American, riding its superior talent to a 108-67 victory before 11,482 at Cole Field House.

Five Maryland players scored in double figures, led by senior forward Keith Booth with 28 points and 11 rebounds. Junior forward Rodney Elliott had his second straight double double with 14 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. Sophomore guard Terrell Stokes added 15 points and seven assists.

Freshman guard Mike Homer led Lafayette (4-5) with 22 points off the bench.

The Terps (9-0) built on their best start since 1975-76, when they were 11-0 before losing to Wake Forest. The 1972-73 team won its first 10 games.

Williams, whose first coaching job was as an assistant at Lafayette for six seasons beginning in 1972, worked his players harder and longer in Sunday's practice than he normally would the day before a game. He didn't want a repeat of Saturday, when a 23-point lead late in the first half dwindled to six in the final seconds.

"We did a good job. I was just glad to see us come out and play tough. I expect everybody on the court to work hard for 40 minutes," said Williams, whose Terps will play Pittsburgh on Friday night in the first round of the Rainbow Classic. Maryland could face No. 4 Michigan in the final. The team bus was scheduled to leave Cole for BWI airport this morning at 5: 15.

"The other night, Duke beat Army, 100-38. If we're going to play with teams like that, we have to have that killer instinct, too," Williams said.

"Against American, we really didn't take care of business like we're supposed to," said junior guard Sarunas Jasikevicius (12 points, seven assists). "We needed some practice in this gym because we didn't practice here for a week because they were setting up for graduation."

Said Booth: "We came out ready to play for 40 minutes tonight and it paid off for us."

The Terps may be relatively young this season, but they had nothing on Lafayette, which started four sophomores and a freshman. The bench included one junior and no seniors.

The Leopards played well for the first 5: 12, using the hot outside shooting of freshman guard Brian Ehlers to take a 14-8 lead. After that, they took it on the chin, getting outscored 46-13 the rest of the half.

Ehlers had 10 points before picking up his third foul with 7: 53 left in the half and the Terps ahead by 10. And he wasn't the only Lafayette player piling up the infractions. The Leopards didn't go to the line during the first 20 minutes, while Maryland was 15-for-23.

The Terps finished 35-for-50 at the line, compared to Lafayette's 4-for-7. Maryland also out-rebounded the Leopards 53-30 and made 19 steals to contribute to Lafayette's 27 turnovers.

For a while, Lafayette was able to break the Terps' press with little difficulty, only to sputter once it crossed midcourt. But as the half wound down, the turnovers began to increase, and so did Maryland's lead.

After Lafayette had taken its biggest lead, Booth dunked off a lob pass from Stokes to begin a 13-0 run that included seven free throws.

"Maryland's pressure really bothered us," said Lafayette coach Fran O'Hanlon. "It was nothing I didn't expect."

Williams made sure his players remained serious, even as the game turned into a laugher. When sophomore Laron Profit (13 points, five assists) missed a breakaway dunk with about 17: 30 left after first throwing the ball off the glass with an underhand scoop, Williams immediately brought in junior Matt Kovarik to replace him, then called a 20-second timeout.

Profit checked back in, to a loud ovation, with 9: 48 left and Maryland leading 83-48.

"He's a sophomore, so it's OK, but it's OK that he comes out of the game when he does that, too," Williams said. "Laron's really a good person and I was disappointed to see him do it, but I don't think you'll ever see him do it again."

Maryland extended its streak of consecutive nonconference home victories to 52. The Terps also have won 27 straight December games at Cole.

"They have a lot of weapons and play great together," O'Hanlon said.

Pub Date: 12/24/96

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