COLLEGE PARK -- For about 29 minutes, Athletes in Action looked exactly like a team playing its fifth game in as many nights, and as it fell behind by 29 points it looked as if Maryland's first exhibition game would be nothing more than a glorified scrimmage.
Then the visitors showed up, and it was then that Gary Williams got a chance to see how well his team would respond to pressure. The Terrapins responded quite well after their lead was reduced to 12 points, recovering in the end for an 85-70 win before a crowd of 6,605 at Cole Field House.
It was the first of two exhibition games for Maryland, which will begin its regular season a week from tomorrow against South nTC Carolina. And aside from a stretch of nearly two minutes in the second half last night, when they turned the ball over on seven straight possessions, the Terps showed they would have something that was sorely lacking last season: depth.
"I saw a lot of combinations that I liked," said a pleased Williams after the game. "I want to get to where we can go 10 deep on the court. I know who the 10 are."
Those 10 will surely include his three freshmen, each of whom played with poise against a touring team that featured former college and professional players.
Seven-foot Terps center Mike Mardesich had 11 points (4-for-5 from the field) and four rebounds and demonstrated good court sense. Terence Morris, a 6-8 forward, had seven points (3-for-5) and three rebounds. And 6-7 forward LaRon Cephas (four points) played physically in his 15 minutes.
"I was real nervous," said Mardesich, a redshirt freshman who should be able to spell Obinna Ekezie. "Fortunately, I made my first shot. From that point, I was fine."
As for Morris, his first basket was impressive. Just over seven minutes into the game, he ran off a screen, took a pass at the foul line and, with one dribble, soared for a two-handed dunk that earned a roar from the crowd.
Asked about the dunk, Williams said, jokingly: "That's how I would have liked to score my first college field goal."
It's likely Williams connected on his from the perimeter, which is how Athletes in Action got back into last night's game.
During one stretch, seven of eight field goals by the visitors were from three-point range, the last by David Wood (seven years of NBA experience) bringing the team within 69-57 with 7: 31 left.
But then the Terps pretty much stopped the bleeding as Stokes -- who watched the sloppy sequence from the bench -- came back into the game. What that stretch showed Williams was how certain individuals would respond under pressure.
"We did a good job to stop their run," Williams said.
Laron Profit, who played some point guard, scored 15 points and had seven assists and eight rebounds to lead the Terps. Ekezie (14 points, eight rebounds) and Rodney Elliott (11 points) also scored in double figures.
The Terps' only real downer for the game was the sprained left ankle suffered in the first half by Sarunas Jasikevicius, who played just eight minutes and did not return after the injury.
ATHLETES IN ACTION -- Wood 6-10 2-2 18, Cunningham 3-7 0-0 6, Hackim 3-15 0-0 9, Hoover 5-13 0-0 14, Bond 2-4 0-0 5, Colbert 3-5 1-2 7, Adderly 2-6 1-2 6, Daniels 1-6 0-0 3, Bosket 1-2 0-0 2, Timberlake 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-69 4-8 70.
MARYLAND -- Profit 5-12 4-4 15, Elliott 5-9 1-1 11, Ekezie 5-9 4-7 14, Stokes 1-4 0-2 2, Jasikevicius 2-2 0-0 5, Kovarik 2-4 5-6 9, Morris 3-5 1-1 7, Mardesich 4-5 3-4 11, Cephas 2-4 0-0 4, Watkins 3-5 1-2 7. Totals 32-59 19-27 85.
Halftime--Maryland 43-23. 3-point goals--Athletes in Action 14-37 (Wood 4-5, Hackim 3-12, Hoover 4-12, Bond 1-2, Adderly 1-2, Daniels 1-4). Maryland 2-8 (Profit 1-3, Elliot 0-1, Stokes 0-1, Jasikevicius 1-1, Kovarik 0-1, Morris 0-1). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--Athletes in Action 34 (Wood 7); Maryland 42 (Profit, Ekezie 8). Assists--Athletes in Action 12 (Hoover 4); Maryland 22 (Profit 7). Total fouls--Athletes in Action 22; Maryland 13. A--6,605.
Pub Date: 11/06/97