Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Maryland's lurching basketball ship may have found a rudder last night in Lawrence Boston.
The rugged 6-foot-8 senior forward, resurrected from the bench two weeks ago, led the Terps to a 65-63 victory over scrappy Georgia Tech and its spectacular gunner, Tico Brown, in the championship of the Maryland Invitational Tournament at Cole Field House.
Tech led, 53-51, with six minutes left when Boston transformed the game. The steady old man of the the team got a three-point play on a turnaround jumper to give Maryland the lead for good, 54-53, then followed with three jumpers from the corners to build the lead to 61-55 with 1:15 to play.
When Boston wasn't racking up nine of his team high 18 points in that five-minute span, he was sweeping the defensive board for five of his 10 rebounds.
Boston's take-charge effort should have laid the deliberate, underdog Ramblin' Wreck to rest.
But the 6-5 Brown refused to quit. With 1:06 left he canned a jumper. After a Billy Bryant layup, he scored again with 48 seconds to play. When Bryant foolishly tried to drive again with 40 ticks left and missed, Brown scored two more points to cut the Terp's margin to 63-61.
Bryant made two pressure free throws with just 22 seconds left and surely this madness was over. But the high-flying Brown dropped in another playground drive with 16 seconds left.
The crowd of 8,500 was confidently filing out with eight seconds left when Bryant, who had 16 points, stepped to the foul line to pad Maryland's 65-63 margin with a one-and-one.
But the missed Brown, who already had 24 points, rebounded and fired an outlet pass as Tech raced up court for a shot that could send the game into overtime.
Tech's top scorer, 6-5 dervish Sammy Drummer, who was held to 13 points in the title game by foul trouble and Albert King's defense, started to launch a long-range jumper, with two seconds left when a funny thing happened.
Boston, who had been silent for almost a minute, sneaked up from behind and picked Drummer's pocket. It was just the right ending for Boston's most valuable player performance. He had scored 41 points on 19-for-26 shooting in the MIT's two games, but the theft was his coup de grace .
"We've had trouble blending together this year," said Boston. "In the stretch I thought it was time for me to take a little leadership."
Just a month ago Boston was humiliated by Georgetown's Craig Shelton when the big Hoya forward outscored him, 25-0, and undressed the big Terp at Capital Centre.
Boston, Maryland's No. 2 scorer and rebounder last year, not only thought that his dreams of a professional career were dead, but that his role as a reliable senior starter were shot as well.
When Terp coach Lefty Driesell shook up his lineup after a defeat to George Washington two weeks ago, Boston saw his chance for redemption.
"I tell Lawrence he plays best coming off the bench," said Driesell with a victory grin. "But it seems like he wants to prove me wrong. I don't think he wants to six next to me anymore."
It seemed that Boston had a special motivitation these last two nights. Boston Celtic general manager Red Auerbach, scouting the country for a suitable big forward to draft, sat not 15 feet from the corner of the court where Boston went wild on the defensive boards.
"Early in the year, I thought, "There goes my shot at the pros," said Boston. "Maybe I'm looking a little better now . . . If Red wants me, I'm ready." Then Boston laughed. "If anybody wants me I'm ready."
St. John's beat Western Kentucky, 80-63, in the consolation game.