The easy part of Maryland schedule ended last night with the Terrapins beating Towson State, 76-59, at Cole Field House for Coach Lefty Driesell's 250th victory in 13 seasons at College Park.
Still, it was the second straight game in which Maryland had trouble with a team it shouldn't have. Monday, the Terrapins defeated Maryland-Eastern Shore, 70-64.
Driesell put his team into a zone defense early in the second half after the smallish Tigers scored a number of inside baskets. Towson couldn't deal with the zone, and the Terrapins broke open a two-point game midway through the second half.
Maryland again was led in scoring by freshman Adrian Branch, who had 17 points. Center Charles Pittman, whose last two performances were not impressive, had 16 points and 14 rebounds. Senior guard Dutch Morley scored eight points and made four steals to lead Maryland's second-half surge.
Things get tougher now for Maryland (6-0), which has yet to be tested. The Terrapins can expect a test in their next game, Saturday at North Carolina State, when they start the Atlantic Coast Conference season.
"The real stuff starts Saturday," said Terrapin forward Mark Fothergill, who started in place of injured Herman Veal and scored seven quick points in what Driesell called his best game at Maryland. "We haven't played anybody of ACC caliber yet," Fothergill said.
Veal has stretched ligaments in his right ankle, but played 21 minutes as a substitute and finished with nine rebounds and eight points. Veal, averaging 14 points and 11 rebounds before last night, said his ankle felt better than it did in the prior two games and that he expects to play Saturday.
Towson (1-3) had four players in double figures, led by Tony Odrick with 13 points.
But Towson's undoing was its inability to score once Maryland went into a 2-3 zone defense.
The Tigers overcame a 14-4 deficit, and pulled within 21-18 on inside baskets by Wendell Henry, Odrick and guard Rica Page, a freshman from Rockville High School. Odrick, at 6 feet 5, is the tallest of the three. "They were hurting us inside," Driesell acknowledged.
The Terrapins held a 37-32 lead at halftime, but Towson pulled within 43-41 four minutes after halftime on a layup by 6-2 guard Don Leslie over 6-9 Pittman.
That's when the Terrapins went into a zone, and when Pittman started reasserting himself around the basket. Towson had shot 52 percent in the first half by getting inside, but made only 41 percent of its second-half attempts (12 for 29) because most of its shots were from the perimeter.
"They didn't adjust to the zone very well," Driesell said.Picture 2, Adrian Branch of Maryland beats Tony Odrick and Donald Jones of Towson. Photos By Richard Darcey -- The Washington Post