By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
LAHAINA, Hawaii -- Maryland Coach Gary Williams attempted to mask his demeanor with words of praise for his team, as well as for the Division II opponent the Terrapins had just beaten by 28 points. But as Williams sat through the postgame news conference after Maryland's win over Chaminade in the first round of the Maui Invitational, his actions conflicted with the message he tried to put forth.
Questions posed about a first half in which a relatively diminutive Chaminade squad with little depth remained close -- and in fact, led more than midway through -- were cut off before their completion.
"We won by 30," Williams said. "We won by 30 points. What do you want me to do? Win by 60? They're a good team. They're a good team. Give them credit. It's not always we did something wrong. They're a good team. They made shots. They did a good job. That's all. They were ready for us. They had seen us play. We hadn't seen them play. So it takes a while to get adjusted."
Indeed, the final margin -- No. 21 Maryland 79, Chaminade 51 -- does not, on the surface, ignite much reason for concern. But Williams's tone was stern and his gaze was sharp. For the latter half of the news conference, during which his players explained the various miscues that contributed to the Terrapins' early struggles, Williams sat with his elbow propped up on the table and his left hand forged against his forehead.
Through 12 minutes of play, Chaminade held a two-point lead thanks to a game plan that mirrored the formula Maryland used to considerable success last season. Silverswords point guard Steven Bennett -- who stands 5 feet 6 -- weaved his way up and down the court at a pace with which the Terrapins initially struggled to keep up.
"The little guard they had was really, really quick," said senior guard Eric Hayes, who made 3 of 6 attempts from three-point range and finished with 12 points. "We weren't doing a good job of getting all the way back and getting into the paint and stopping the ball. We just did a poor job of stopping him from getting to the basket. And we knew that once they got into transition that they would probably want to kick it out for threes and get open looks from there.
"Once we started getting back in transition more that kind of slowed them down."
Chaminade was unable to expand its lead beyond three points, and eventually, Maryland's rare height advantage -- not to mention its superior talent and athleticism -- enabled the Terrapins to regain momentum.
With just less than eight minutes remaining in the first half, sophomore guard Sean Mosley scored to tie the game at 16. The basket sparked a 7-0 run that pushed Maryland ahead for good. By halftime, the Terrapins led by 10. Maryland opened the second half on a 9-2 run, and the Silverswords could not recover. Bennett attempted just five of his 15 shots in the second half. He finished with 12 points.
"We tried to come out in the second half and run our transition offense because we did poorly in the first half," said Mosley, who tallied a game-high 19 points. "We didn't execute in transition as well as we normally do. They got tired down the stretch and we just wanted to attack them and try to get to the free throw line. We just kept attacking them, and the lead got larger and larger down the stretch."
The Terrapins shot 47 percent from the field on the night and won the rebounding battle, 46-34. Freshman forward Jordan Williams contributed 10 rebounds and Mosley added eight. Senior forward Landon Milbourne recorded 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting. If the box score alone told the story of this Maryland win, the victory would have been resounding.
But Williams was asked whether, when the game was tied more than 10 minutes into the game against an opponent that is now 5-69 in this tournament, he was worried.
"I was worried," Williams said. "I'm always worried. In any game I've ever coached. As a Jayvee high school coach if it was 14-14 I was worried. So that's how I coach. But we're trying to get better this time of year."