Maryland scored only 12 points in the second half last night, but held on for a ragged, 49-42 victory over St. Peter's College in the season opener for both teams before 9,950 at Cole Field House.
Herman Veal led the winners with 13 points, and freshmen Jeff Adkins and Adrian Branch had 11 and 10 points, respectively. Peacock senior William Brown led all scorers with 15 points.
Despite watching St. Peter's survive a 17-point first-half deficit and cut a 10-point margin to six in the final minutes, Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell said he never was worried about losing.
"They held the ball on us and kept it close, but I don't think the game was in doubt," Driesell said. "It was a good win for us, but we like to play basketball. It's hard to evaluate our performance against a team like that. Statistics don't mean much."
Driesell also said St. Peter's got off to a bad start by reportedly calling the Terrapins one of the weakest teams on its schedule.
Peacock Coach Bob Dukiet denied that he had made such a statement. "Hey, that stuff came straight out of Lefty's house. We would never say that about any team," Dukiet said. "I drive a Chevy Malibu and Lefty drives a Cadillac. He has a first-class program here, and we don't even have dormitories. The only thing I was worried about was suffering an embarrassing defeat. But we outrebounded them (27-25), and in the final minutes, trailed by six and had the ball."
The Peacocks had indeed gotten back into the contest after Brown sank an 18-footer from the top of the key to make it 41-35 with nearly four minutes left.
But the Terrapins regrouped. Adkins -- who was impressive in his debut, making three of six from the floor, five of six from the foul line and not committing a turnover in 27 minutes -- sank two free throws to give the Terrapins a 48-35 lead with 2:37 to play. Adkins was fouled after the Terrapins managed to play keep-away for 80 seconds.
"I was glad we got a chance to hold the ball in the last minutes," Driesell said. "We didn't score as much as I might have liked, but it was a good experience for us."
St. Peter's, patient and methodical most of the game, started forcing shots in the last three minutes. Veal, who also had a game-high eight rebounds, was fouled grabbing a loose ball and made the first of a one-and-one foul situation for a nine-point lead. Veal missed the second shot, but Charlie Pittman pulled the ball away from the shorter Peacocks and put it in.
After another St. Peter's miss, Veal made a layup and Maryland led, 48-35, with 1:42 left.
"I never thought we'd lose," Veal said. "We were a little flat at the start of the second half, and except for those eight or nine minutes when we didn't score, we kept our poise pretty good."
The Terrapins began as if they had a grudge against the Peacocks, jumping to a 17-2 lead with 10:11 left in the first half. But the visitors finally settled down and cut the deficit to 12 points, 37-25, at intermission.