Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Maryland threw its talent on the court, closed its eyes and came away with a 78-63 no-contest win over American in the first round on the Tip-Off Tournament at Capital Centre tonight.
The Terps' task tonight in the championship game against Georgetown, a 71-56 winner over Navy, won't be half as easy a basketball exercise.
But last night, the erratic Terps played as well as they had to, which meant that forward Lawrence Boston was able to yell greetings to ex-team mate Steve Sheppard in the stands on several trips down the court.
Albert King was on the bench for 18 minutes with foul trouble and finally fouled out after a nine-point effort.
Maryland coach Lefty Driesell juggled his linecups - some fast, some funny - and the Terps were inches away from great plays all night.
Billy Bryant captures high-point honors, playing at three positions (one forward, both guard Greg Manning scored 12.
"We're still experimenting," said Driesell. "We're playing well on defense and not on offense. Once we get it together, we'll be good. Now, we're still struggling."
In a performance somewhat similar to their season opening win over Bucknell, the Terps trudged to a 36-31 halftime lead and held American at bay until they were ready to get serious toward the end of the game.
King continues to show flashes of his brilliance starting a Maryland fast break that was by far the delight of the evening for the 4,500 fans.
Early in the game. King grabbed a defensive rebound above the rim, in midair threw downcourt to Mike Davis at the Maryland end of the court, and Davis handed off to Manning who hit a layup without breaking stride. The play gave Maryland a 14-2 lead.
Part of Maryland's sloppiness might be explained by the fact that the offense is slowly being changed, perhaps being tailored to better exploit King.
"Maryland's inside game is different." said American coach Jim Lynam. "It's more pass oriented. It's not the power game it once was. It gives the wingpeople more opportunity to get involved."
"Manning was a real factor in the game. He made some good passes and did a good job all the way around."
American's big gun center Howie Lassoff, was held to 10 points by an inspired Davis, who at one point blocked two straight shots! Earlier, Davis appeared so rattled by a confrontation with the 61foot-10 Lassoff that he went to the foul line and shot an air ball.
Russell Bowers scored 15 points for the Eagles who shot only 34 per cent to Maryland's 47.
The Terps continue to have turn-over problems. There were 20 in their opener and 24 in this game.
"It's just a matter of us playing together a while until we start looking fluid," said Driesell.
Georgetoown center Ed Hopkins muscled inside Navy's zone defense and hit all nine of his field-goal attempts.
Hopkins' perfect night from the floor (nine for nine) was nearly a necessity with Craig (Big Sky) Shelton and Derrick Jackson each fussing with foul trouble in the second half.
Navy burst to a 14-4 lead, with a whirlwind pace not quite thought of as the Mids' style. But soon, their inferior size and lack of quickness caught up with them and the Hoyas tied it at 16 with the aid of John Duren's three outside shots and two free throws.
Navy kept close for the rest of the half, and led, 39-38 at intermission.
But the second half was all Georgetown. Its backcourt press and zone defense sent the Mids reeling. Navy scored only17 points in the half, hitting three field goals in the last 20 trips up the court.
Hank Kuzma (18 points) and Kevin Sinnett (19) kept Navy respectable with outside shooting, but the Hoyas match-up zone was not to be penerated.
Hopkins ignited the eight-point Georgetown streak that put the Hoyas safely ahead for the first time in the game 61-51. Navy never responded after that.
Hopkins started the string with a four-foot turnaround, hit a baseline hook and then rifled a pass to Steve Martin, who hit an open baseline shot.
Navy's hottest player, Sinnett, was in the game only 24 minutes, because of a leg infection. As a team, Navy shot only 33 per cent.
"Obviously," Navy coach Bob Hamilton said, "we had trouble with their zone."
Hopkins' bionic effort paced a 64 per cent shooting night for the Hoyas, who were upset by Navy last year on a last-second field goal.