Early in the second half last night, John Gilchrist unleashed a 25-foot shot that swished. Back-peddling downcourt, Gilchrist glanced toward his bench, flipped up his hands and smiled, as if to say, "Why not?"
Maryland's 85-53 victory over Mount St. Mary's before 17,950 at Comcast Center last night featured little turbulence and will hardly be remembered once the 22nd-ranked Terrapins are entrenched in ACC season, which kicks up Saturday at North Carolina.
The Terps' Ekene Ibekwe takes the ball away from the Mount's Chris Sumner.
(Joel Richardson -- The Washington Post)
D.J. Strawberry started in place of Nik Caner-Medley because of a "coach's decision," Coach Gary Williams said, adding that Caner-Medley will return to the starting lineup Saturday. Caner-Medley scored 17 points in 19 minutes and did not elaborate on the matter, adding: "Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent of how you react. You have to react in a positive way regardless. . . . I told D.J. to go out and play hard."
Maryland held a tenuous lead when Williams summoned his first substitutes, Caner-Medley, James Gist and Will Bowers, to the scorer's table with 13 minutes 45 seconds remaining in the first half. With the reserves and Caner-Medley in the game, the Terps immediately went on a 9-0 run, keyed by a defense that recorded a season-high 17 steals. A 21-5 run later in the half, capped by a three-pointer by Caner-Medley, all but wrapped up the game for the Terps, who entered halftime with a 47-25 advantage. "The theme was to come out and play aggressively for 40 minutes and really get our defense up," Williams said.
Travis Garrison, who vowed to play more inspired beginning last night, scored 15 points and was more aggressive, including on one play when he saved a ball from falling out of bounds and flicked a pass to Strawberry near the basket. Garrison's play was particularly encouraging considering Maryland (9-2) will next face two of the best big men in the ACC in North Carolina's Sean May and Wake Forest's Eric Williams.
"The seven rebounds were important for him," Williams said. "It helps every part of his game. He did the same thing for a while last year; he got into a lull and didn't start a couple games. But then he was back and was really one of our best players down the stretch."
Williams also knows he has Bowers to use against the stronger front courts of the ACC. Bowers was effective in 14 minutes, scoring five points and collecting six rebounds. At 7 feet 1, Bowers has size, but now he is active on the floor as well.
"Will knows he is going to play," Williams said. "I think that helps any player. Hopefully, he is at a comfort level and a confidence level where he knows he can get some things done."
Maryland's free throw shooting, a problem at times last season and early this season, was also much improved. Last night Maryland made all 10 of its first-half attempts and finished the game having made 21 of 26.
Gilchrist scored 17 points, failing to score 20 for the first time in six games.
Although Maryland has beaten Memphis, which was ranked at the time, Gilchrist feels the team still is in need of a true quality victory. A final warm-up against another overmatched opponent, Mount St. Mary's (3-7), does not fall into that category.
"We're still looking for that one big win this year," Gilchrist said. "There is a difference between quality wins and elite wins."