Dutch Morley, Maryland's nonshooting guard poured in a career-high 16 points to key a sluggish but convincing 85-72 conquest of East Carolina last night at Cole Field House.
The eighth-ranked Terps, now with a 19-4 record this season, needed the help from Morley, starting place of injured Greg Manning, because this was not one of their outstanding shooting nights of the year -- 49 percent.
Morley had not stated in eight games and came onto the floor averaging 3.0 points a game, off 43 percent accuracy from the field (17 of 40).
With ECU Coach Dave Odom yelling, 'Sag, sag!" everytime Morley touched the ball, he dispelled the rumor that he was incapable of reaching the basket from 15 feet away.
"I heard Coach Odom yelling at his guys to sag on me," Morley said after converting seven for nine from the floor. "Last year when he was an assistant at Wake (Forest) he did that too, so I expected it going in.
"I didn't really do anything special tonight, maybe took my time a little better. The first couple went in, so I kept shooting."
Morley's shooting was particularly crucial at the one juncture when East Carolina (14-9) looked capable of making a game of it. The Pirates, led by the shooting of guard George Maynor (13 of 22 for 27 points) had cut a 13-point Terp lead to 56-50 with a 10:26 to play.
Morley promptly ringed three straight jumpers over that sagging defense and Maryland had the lead back to a commanding 62-50.
"I talked to Dutch in practice yesterday about cheating in a little bit," said Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell. "He tends to stand out about 20 or 22 feet and he's not going to hit that shot. But if he gets to 15 or 16 feet he can shoot with anybody. I told him to move in there because they're going to give him that shot anyway.
Rookie Coach Odom said his strategy was to let Morley shoot all night if he wanted to. "Absolutely, we were giving him the shot," Odom said. n"I congratulate him for shooting the way he did but I'd do the same thing again tomorrow."
Morley was far from a one-man team. Ernest Graham found his shooting eye (10 for 16) for a team-high 21 points and Buck Williams took 16 rebounds. e
Albert King did not shoot well (seven of 17) but collected 15 points. Reggie Jackson, switched to Manning's position, never got it going, hitting two of 12 from the floor.
"I don't want to say we were sluggish," Driesell said, clearly implying he thought his team was sluggish. "We've played basketball, either a game or practice, 10 days in a row now.
"I'm not sure what we need right now, a day off or a hard practice. We really haven't had a chance to rest since the (North) Carolina game last week."
Although in control throughout, taking a 7-2 lead and never letting ECU catch up, the Terps clearly were not into this game. Neither was the crowd of 10,216, which sat on its hands most of the night.
"It's definitely easier to get into a game mentally when the crowd is up," offered King. "Tonight the crowd wasn't really into the game that much and I guess it affected us some."
"We certainly didn't have the Carolina spirit," Graham said thinking back seven days to that frenetic classic in this same building
"Knowing they will have a chance to clinch the ACC regular-season title Saturday at Duke, the Terps clearly were looking forward to putting this nonconference game behind them.
"We'll certainly have to play better Saturday than we have the last two games," Morley said. "You try to get up for these games, you should be able to, but it's hard."
The Terps made sure ECU didn't make a serious run at them (the Pirates cut it to six once more with four minutes left) by outrebounding them, 46-37, for the game and by cooling Maynor from a nine-for-12 first half to four of 10 the second period.
But the story was Morley, never a scorer even at De Matha, where he averaged 6.6 as a senior. "Something different happened tonight, maybe it was concentration," Morley said.
"But I sure hope it continues."
Maryland basketball trainer Rod Martin said last night that he "expects" Greg Manning to be able to play at Duke.
Manning, the 6-foot-2 junior guard shooting 65 percent from the floor for the season, sprained his right ankle Monday night against Boston University. tHe attended last night's game on crutches. Martin said the ankle will be examined again Friday but said he thought Manning would be able to play.