Maryland's vast improvement was obvious last night in the way the Terrapins dismissed Old Dominion, 87-67, at Cole Field House.
The Monarchs cut a 14-point deficit to three points with seven minutes to play, but the Terrapins scored 15 straight points over the next three minutes and easily won what was supposed to be a close game.
Maryland closed out the nonconference season with its sixth straight victory, raising the team's record to 13-5.
"The whole team played extremely well," said Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell. "It was the mark of a good team to pull away after Old Dominion had cut our lead to three."
The Monarchs (11-6) closed to 52-49 with 9:31 left on a rebound-layup by Mark Davis.
"It might have been a three-point lead, but we were in offensive control," said Maryland guard Jeff Baxter.
Maryland went to its spread offense, which produced a short jumper and a dunk by Adrian Branch, who slipped inside ODU's overplaying defense and started the Terrapin scoring run.
Branch made seven of 11 shots and finished with a game-high 19 points and six assists. Jeff Adkins made seven of 12 shots to finish with a season-high 18 points. His offensive contributions were especially important because they kept the Monarchs from double-teaming Branch.
"With Jeff scoring like that, it creates a lot more one-on-one scoring situations for me," said Branch. "And I'm glad for Jeff because he deserved a payday."
The Terrapins led by only two when Adkins took an outlet pass from Herman Veal and drove hard for a layup and a subsequent foul shot. That put Maryland ahead, 29-24, with 4:40 left in the first half.
"We still go to Adrian when we need a bucket, like we did late in the game," Adkins said. "But we need more balanced scoring. We look more like a team now. It was no good for Adrian to score 25 and me score two. I had to take some of the pressure off him, so I'm looking for my shot more and looking to drive more."
Adkins and Branch led the season-high 64-percent shooting (70 percent in the second half). Veal made five of eight shots, and the reserves--Ed Farmer, Steve Rivers, Len Bias and Baxter--were nine of nine from the field.
The home crowd was treated to flying dunks from diminutive guards Rivers and Baxter late in the game.
The only player who didn't shoot well was center Ben Coleman (six of 14), but he made his last three shots to finish with 14 points and 10 rebounds despite sitting out 13 minutes with foul trouble.
What mattered most was that Coleman outscored and outrebounded Mark West, Old Dominion's 6-foot-11 center, who finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.
The Monarchs' comeback midway through the second half was led by West, who posted up inside for three straight baskets. But West took too long to get going. He made only one of five shots in the first half, finding little inside room against Maryland's triangle-and-two defense.
Terrapin center-forward Mark Fothergill called West the "strongest big man we've faced all year. He has a low base and can push you around with his trunk and legs. He was leaning on me and I was leaning on him. And he must have knocked me down about four times. He's a good, tough player."
But West was contained enough for Old Dominion to have to resort to outside jump shooting, which the Monarchs didn't do well enough to win. Freshman guard Keith Thomas came off the bench to score 16 points and sophomore guard Charlie Smith got 14.
Len Bias was struck under his right eye by an elbow late in the game. X-rays were negative.
Maryland will close out its season with nine straight Atlantic Coast Conference games, beginning Saturday afternoon at home against Georgia Tech.
Duke 73, Wm. and Mary 71: Johnny Dawkins sank two free throws with nine seconds left as the Blue Devils won in Durham, N.C.
Duke (9-9) was leading, 71-67, following a drive by Tom Emma and a dunk by Mark Alarie, but Mike Strayhorn scored on a drive to cut the margin to two. Dawkins then made his foul shots to offset a pair of foul shots by Strayhorn four seconds later.
Dawkins, who led Duke with 16 points and eight assists, missed the front end of a one and one with three seconds left, but William and Mary could not get off another shot.