Maryland guard Reggie Jackson sat between freshmen Adrian Branch and Jeff Adkins like a proud papa. "I'm real proud of these boys," Jackson said. "Real proud." And for good reason.
Branch, the 6-foot-8 forward from De Matha, and Adkins, the versatile guard from Martinsville, Va., delighted most of the 3,900 fans at Cole Field House in their college basketball debut last night, leading the Terrapins to a 104-77 victory over the Australian national team.
Branch scored a team-high 20 points, including Maryland's first points of the game. Adkins made six of eight shots, including the 99th and 100th points, and had three assists. The other Maryland freshman, Chuck Driesell, sank an 18-foot shot at the end of the first half. Each of the freshmen made his first collegiate shot.
"It's good they've started off playing well," Jackson said. "Because we're going to need them down the line."
The most impressive Terrapin performance was by sophomore forward Herman Veal. He scored 18 points, had 10 rebounds and played solid defense in 28 minutes. Forward Mark Fothergill and center Charles Pittman also scored in double figures, with 12 and 10, respectively. All 11 Maryland players (Jon Robinson missed the game with a sore back) scored.
Australia tied the contest, 16-16, on a basket by forward Ian Davis, who scored 16 of his 20 points in the first half. But Adkins then came off the bench and assisted on two straight baskets and scored on a third as the Terrapins jumped to a 22-16 lead with 12:06 to play in the first half.
Maryland outscored Australia, 24-4, during a six-minute span to take a 56-28 lead. The Terrapins led, 62-37, at halftime.
The Australians cut the deficit to 84-69 with 6:30 to play on Brad Dalton's left-handed hook, but Branch, who made nine of 17 shots, came back into the lineup and took over.
His layup in heavy traffic gave Maryland a 17-point lead again, and Maryland took an 88-69 lead on his 10-foot jumper. After Jackson's breakaway dunk following a steal by Dutch Morley, Branch scored on a bank shot to give Maryland a 92-70 lead with three minutes remaining.
"I thought we played excellent defense," Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell said afterward. "We kind of got lax those first six or seven minutes of the second half. But our rebounding was good. And we hit good shots. Adkins had a couple of great plays. I felt he turned the game around early in the first half after the score was tied. Adrian played very well, too."