The University of Maryland tuned up for its big encounter with No. 1-ranked Notre Dame Saturday by running roughshod over outmanned Navy, 82-62, before 6,844 last night at Cole Field House.
The Terrapins (13-5) did a lot of things right, especially in the second half when they turned the game into the rout it was expected to be.
Maryland owned both backboards and had no trouble beating the Midshipmen downcourt for layups and short jump shots. The Terps shot a sizzling 64 percent (35 of 55) from the field, with more than half of their baskets coming on slick assists.
Leading, 39-32, at intermission, Maryland opened the second half in a hurry. The Terp center, 6-foot-9 Larry Gibson, enjoying a three-inch height advantage over Navy defenders, banked in two 10-foots, watched teammate Buck Williams sink a layup following a nice pass from Reggie Jackson, then hit a 16-foot jumper to spark the Terps to a 47-34 lead with 16:53 left. This forced Navy Coach Bob Hamilton to call a timeout in a hurry.
"We needed some points in a hurry. We didn't play that well in the first half and we wanted to stretch out as soon as we came back out," said Gibson, who scored 14 points and collected seven rebounds. "The game was a little close."
What happened over the next six minutes wouldn't make interesting conversation during the Mids' 30-mile bus ride back to Annapolis. The Terps' fast break hit second gear and Ernest Graham, A1 King and Greg Manning scored on consecutive break-aways and Maryland soared to a 55-36 lead with 12:44 left.
During the hosts' two 8-2 spurts, Navy was missing eight of 10 shots, committing turnovers and looking very perplexed. Possibly the most perplexed Mid was Victor Smith, who beat his man for an apparent easy layup. But out of nowhere, Buck Williams swatted the ball away. One pass and seconds later, Manning was racing home for a layup and a 19-point Terp lead.
"They scored on us pretty well and we had trouble scoring," said Navy Coach Bob Hamilton. "They rebounded on us pretty well and we had trouble rebounding. The longer you play with a team that's physically stronger, the tougher it is. It soon begins to show."
Only Navy's 6-6 Kevin Sinnett, who led all players with 22 points, had any success against taller Maryland's tight zone defense. The visitors were frustrated in their efforts to get the ball inside and soon began to relay more on outside shooting.
Sinnett scored nine of Navy's 11 points during one stretch in the second half but his one-man show was hardly enough to offset the balanced attack by Maryland.
With the game well in hand, the Terrapins continued to play at a racehorse pace. Graham (16), Manning (12) and King (12) took turns converting on three on-one fast breaks. The most rousing play of the game came when Dutch Morely passed to Manning who in turn gave the trailer King a pass the 6-6 forward slam-dunked to boost the Terps' lead to 77-52 with 2:16 left.
King, who appeared to be standing on the Navy defenders' shoulders, hung on the rim and was assessed a technical four. No one cared.
Navy (8-8) played as tough as it could in the first 20 minutes. Sinnett got inside of Gibson and Williams enough to score 11 points while Chuck Greene hit seven jumpers from 14 to 18 feet to help the Mids stay close.
A Gibson one-foot bank shot pushed the Terps up by 10 points, 29-19 with 6:45 left in the first half but Navy fought back. Two baskets each by Jack Stumborg and Greene cut the deficit to 35-30. Gibson and Reggie Jackson each scored two points sand-wiched around a Sinnett basket to give the Terps their sever-point halftime advantage.