Missing students leave Williams feeling empty; Francis' passing show jogs 15-year-old Gatlin memory


COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland coach Gary Williams took another swipe at Terps fans yesterday, and this time the criticism was directed at students who were no-shows at Cole Field House.

Nine hundred and six students didn't use their seats yesterday to watch the Terps rush past Virginia, 88-72, resulting in the first non-sellout this season since the Nov. 17 game against UMBC.

Yesterday's crowd was 13,594, less than the 13,865 who attended the 90-62 blowout over UMBC.

"We're 19-4 going into today's game," he said. "We deserved to have everybody in their seats. I'm sure it was disappointing to the players. We're still sixth-ranked in one poll, and with most sixth-ranked teams, people are here at the start of the game."

Williams said he is not too worried about filling the house for the two remaining home games, against North Carolina and Clemson.

"Hopefully, they will be here," he said. "The fans here were great. We play for whoever is here."

Passing fancy

Terps shooting guard Steve Francis put on his top passing show of the season yesterday, handing out 13 assists, the most for the Terps by far this season in an ACC game.

It was also the most by a Terp in an ACC game since Keith Gatlin had 13 against Virginia on Jan. 30, 1984.

Big men were difference

Virginia coach Pete Gillen said there was no big mystery why his team could not keep up with Maryland yesterday.

"They had mountains and we have little guys," said Gillen. "They come at you with nine talented guys and they hit seven of 10 threes in the first half. It's hard to beat them when they're shooting like that."

Gillen said the Maryland "mountains" prompted his team to "get shook and turn the ball over 27 times. That is what disappointed me most."

Then Gillen turned to his favorite pastime, one-liners, to help ease the pain of the setback, which ended a three-game winning streak.

"I sent Raleigh Harbour in there to give out free beers," Gillen said of the 6-foot-8 senior walk-on who is a part-time bartender. "I'd rather cheat them than beat them," he said with a smile.

Gillen wanted Baxter, Dixon

The powerful inside presence of Lonny Baxter and first-half shooting by Juan Dixon did not surprise Gillen.

"We recruited Baxter and Dixon at Providence," he said of the two freshmen. "Baxter is a terrific player who can overpower you, and Dixon is a gifted shooter. Juan visited us at Providence.

"Every one of their four guys who come off the bench would be starting for us. That's why they're ranked sixth [by ESPN/USA Today] in the country."


Reece Gaines, a 6-5 swingman from Madison, Wis., who is being pursued by the Terps, attended yesterday's game with his father, Clyde Gaines. The elder Gaines was a star point guard for Lake Clifton in the early 1970s. Maryland's 8-for-13 effort from beyond the arc yesterday was its top three-point show of the season.

Pub Date: 2/07/99

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