Morris, Terps adjust to the California heat; Forward's 34 points give teammates chance to rally, win exhibition


COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland superstar Terence Morris showed why he is one of the nation's premier players despite a cold, but it was the rest of the young Terrapins that had a more timely recovery.

Although Morris scored 34 points and grabbed 20 rebounds, Maryland showcased its resiliency without his offense, going on a 17-2 run in a 6 1/2-minute stretch late in the second half to pull away with a 105-98 exhibition victory last night over the California All-Stars at Cole Field House.

Morris, who is expected to be named a preseason first-team All-American this morning, paced the Terrapins during a tough first half yet had only two free throws during that crucial span. All five starters contributed points in that spurt, including seven by guard Juan Dixon, as their team defense caused four turnovers and held California without a field goal on five shots.

"We have to learn quickly," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "We don't have time to gradually get into things. The thing I really liked was our ability to dig down. I didn't see one person quit out there."

The Terrapins finished the preseason with a 2-0 record and will have a week to prepare for their season opener next Wednesday against San Francisco in the first round of the Preseason National Invitation Tournament. California (1-5), which had three losses that were determined by a total of 11 points, pestered Maryland throughout by knocking down 16 three-pointers.

Maryland, which hasn't lost an exhibition game since 1993, trailed by as many as 11 points in the second half, when Poncho Hodges made a layup to stake California to a 64-53 lead with 17: 01 left.

The Terrapins, however, closed out strong, hitting 21 of their final 32 shots (66 percent) as well as turning the ball over only three times in the last 17 1/2 minutes. It was a drastic turnaround for Maryland, which missed 18 of its first 35 shots and gave up 16 points off its mistakes in the first half.

"One of the things that we learned from this game is that offense starts from the inside out," Williams said. "We have to look to go inside -- we shot well from the outside the other night, but the shooting won't always be there."

California took the opposite approach, relying on the outside shot to keep ahead of Maryland. Gabe Lewullis' three-pointer with seven minutes left gave the All-Stars a 91-85 margin, their 15th three on 24 attempts, before the Terrapins took over.

Maryland depended on its weary starters -- Morris, Dixon, Danny Miller and Steve Blake all logged in more than 30 minutes -- to increase the full-court pressure find shots inside.

Danny Miller's jumper in the lane crept the Terrapins within 92-91 with 5: 55 left in the game, and the All-Stars went through a two-minute scoreless stretch. Maryland then jumped ahead at 93-92 on a Dixon tip-in with 4: 25 and never looked back.

"We have to get better defensively," said Lonny Baxter, who had 20 points in 13 minutes. "Once we get the intensity there, we'll be rolling."

Still, Maryland wouldn't have been in range for a comeback without Morris. The junior from Frederick had seven of the Terrapins' first 16 baskets and accounted for 20 of his team's 47 rebounds.

"I felt confident shooting today," said Morris through sniffles. "I came in early and shot around. I want to set an example for the younger guys. It's only an exhibition, but it's still a game.

"We came out flat, but we turned it on when we needed to."

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