Maryland, probably one of the best perimeter-shooting teams around, showed last night it can also play defense. Just ask Temple.
The Terrapins used a scrambling man-to-man defense to completely bottle up the Owls and had no trouble rolling to an 85-63 triumph to win their Invitational Tournament for the eighth time in nine years before 3,816 at Cole Field House.
Maryland (8-1) started slowly before Al King, Ernest Graham and Buck Williams began pounding the offensive boards to get second and third shots. King poured in 12 of his 18 points in the first half to help the Terps jump out to a 38-25 advantage.
Temple, usually a poised, patient club, couldn't keep up with the quicker Terps and was unable to run its offense. When an Owl did get away from the sticky Terp players, he couldn't make the open shot. Temple converted only 23 of 65 shots from the field.
Temple's misfortunes started in the first half when it went nearly seven minutes without a field goal. The Owls didn't play much better in the second half, losing the ball four times in their first 10 possessions and making only four of their first 12 attempts from the field.
Meanwhile Maryland was smoking. Ernest Graham (16 points) made two quick jumpers, Dutch Morley scored following one of his five steals, Greg Manning (14) streaked in for a layup and Williams rolled in a soft hook to send the Terps roaring out to a 48-29 advantage with 17:15 to play in the game.
Temple outrebounded Maryland, 42-39, but many of them came after the Owls were well on their way to their third loss in nine games.
Ron Wister and Neal Robinson tried desperately to rally their tiring mates but the Terps were not about to let up. Wister scored seven of his nine points and had five rebounds in the second half before fouling out with five minutes left. Robinson led Temple with 13 points.
Maryland's offense looked very smooth, with all five players involved almost every time down court. On one possession, the ball went to each player twice before Williams took Manning's backward pass for a layup and a 57-34 Terp lead.
"I've been saying all along, this is a better team than people think," said Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell. "Everybody better start realizing that. Anybody we play better be ready for us."
King, voted the most valuable player of the tourney, said the win was a team effort.
"I really don't care about winning this award," said King, who had a game-high 11 rebounds and six steals. "Temple played very well. This game was a good one to help us get ready for the ACC. I think we're ready."
The Terps appeared ready to play anyone last night. They shot well from the floor (32 of 63) and the line (21 of 26). They had 20 assists, made 15 steals and had 13 turnovers.
Unlike Friday night's 115-76 trouncing over Miami of Ohio, when Maryland shot 70 percent from the field, the Terrapins had trouble finding the basket in the opening minutes. Maryland made only three of its first 15 tries from the floor and found itself trailing, 8-6, with little more than five minutes gone.
Temple was doing its best to keep from getting into a run-and-shoot battle, working for good shots inside. Unfortunately for the Owls, they also had a bit of difficutly making the open shot. Neal Robinson's back-to-back goals tied the game at 12 but that was about the story for the visitors.
The Terps slowly began to pull ahead on good free throw shooting, and follow-up baskets. Greg Manning made sic straight from the charity stripe. Al King muscled in two follow-up buckets and a short jump shot and Ernest Graham, after a woeful start, made two long jumpers outside the active Owl zone as Maryland raced into the lead, 30-21, with six minutes to play in the first half.
Temple suddenly couldn't do anything right. Maryland's man-to-man defense forced several turnovers and limited the cold-shooting Owls to shots they certainly didn't want. Temple made only two field goals in the final eight minutes of the half.
In between Owl misses, Graham scored on fast break, Taylor Baldwin dropped in two free throws, and King scored on first break, Taylor Baldwin to fire the Terps to a 38-25 lead at intermission.
Temple shot a horrid eight for 27 from a field. The only reason the Owls were even close was because they made all nine tries from the free throw line. The Terps made only 12 of 32 from the floor. Buck Williams, making his first start of the year, and King missed dunks.
Temple's problems were compounded when 6-foot-11 center Ron Wister and Robinson picked up their third personal fouls in the half.
King had 12 points and eight rebounds in the first half. Manning added 10 points.