HONOLULU -- With a chance to set a record for the best start in Maryland basketball history, the unbeaten Terps stumbled over a well-disciplined Georgia team in the final of the Rainbow Classic and bowed in overtime, 73-65, this morning.
Forced to play at the Bulldogs' deliberate pace, the No. 19 Terps never got their transition game in gear and saw their 11-game winning streak come to a discouraging end.
Maryland simply did not have enough offensive weapons to hold off Georgia (11-1) after Keith Booth, their captain and scoring leader, fouled out with 26 seconds left in regulation.
A turnaround jumper by Laron Profit gave the Terps their last lead at 60-59, but five straight points by reserve Bulldogs forward Derrick Dukes proved too much to overome.
Sophomore forward Michael Chadwick led Georgia with 21 points. Booth had 18 to lead the Terps, and 68 for the tournament to gain MVP honors.
While coach Gary Williams got strong efforts from his bench in the earlier tournament wins over Pitt and Hawaii, that was hardly the case in the first half against Georgia.
Sixth man Rodney Elliott missed all four of his shots while playing 13 minutes, and none of the other Terps substitutes managed to score.
Georgia coach Tubby Smith, on the other hand, substituted liberally and got 12 points off his bench.
In first half, the Bulldogs shot 44 percent from the field (11-for-26) compared to 42 percent (11-for-27) for the Terps.
Maryland came out with far more passion to start the second half, quickly reclaiming, the lead, 35-34, on a jumper by Obinna Ekezie and a three-point play off an aggressive drive by Sarunas Jasikevicius.
After Lorenzo Hall rejected a close-in shot by Booth, Jasikevicius swished a three-pointer, giving the Terps their biggest spread of the game, 39-34.
But the Bulldogs showed their resilience. They put together a 7-0 run featuring a three-pointer by G.G. Smith to lead, 41-39, with just under 15 minutes remaining.
Then it was Maryland's turn to put a streak together. Booth, Ekezie and Terrell Stokes (16 points) made consecutive layups to give the Terps a brief 45-41 advantage.
But Georgia came right back, hitting three three-point shots -- a pair by Adrian Jones and one by Smith. After Booth picked up his fourth foul with 8: 29 left, Chadwick converted a rebound to give thr Bulldogs a 52-47 cushion.
Williams vented his disgust at the way Georgia was beating the Terps on the offensive boards.
Maryland then had difficulty getting a shot off. Booth had one rejected by Lorenzo Hall and traveled on the Terps next possesion. His Terp teammates were reluctant to shoot the ball,
Elliott ended the scoring fAmine, converting a turnover into a layup, and Maryland trailed, 54-51, with 4.44 to play.
Both teams used full-court presses in the opening minutes when scoring was kept to a minimum.
Chadwick, who won the semifinal game against Memphis with a layup in the final 12 seconds, staked the Bulldogs to an early 4-2 lead. Maryland pulled even at 7 when point guard Terrell Stokes matched G.G. Smith's three-point shot.
Georgia showed great patience on offense, working the 35-second clock to get high-percentage shots. The lead changed hands three times in the next two minutes. Stokes holed another three-pointer, but Chadwick answered right back.
A strong rebounding hoop by Booth became a three-point play to push the Terps ahead, 13-12. Georgia continued its torrid outside shooting, with reserve forward Derrick Dukes hitting a three-pointer for a 15-13 Bulldog lead.
A walking violation by Terp center Obinna Ezekie earned a place on the bench. He was replaced by another sophomore, Brian Watkins.
Play turned a bit ragged, but three points by Laron Profit gave Maryland the lead again, but the Bulldogs were making the Terps play at a deliberate pace.
Neither team could put together a run. Stokes made his third three-pointer of the first half for a two-point lead, only to have Georgia freshman guard Jones tie it again at 21.
Stokes, not known for his scoring, made his 11th point of the first half with a slashing layup for a 25-23 edge. Typically, the Bulldogs responded with a steal and basket by Ray Harrison and a turnaround jumper by 7-foot center Eric DeYoung.
After the ninth tie of the game, Georgia's 250-pound forward Larry Brown scored on a put-back and Chadwick tipped one home to give the Bulldogs a 34-31 cushion at the end of the slow-paced first half. Stokes led the Terps with 13 points. Chadwick had 11 for Georgia.
Maryland vs. Georgia
3rd: Hawaii vs. Memphis
5th: Pitt 85, Michigan 78
7th: Wash. St. 68, N'western 52
Pub Date: 12/31/96