The University of Maryland basketball team's search for a center continued last night and the experiment was an unpleasant one for Towson State, which suffered a 91-58 rout at Cole Field House against a Terrapins lineup that included two freshman starters.
Tony Massenburg made his first collegiate start at center and the 6-foot-9 freshman from Sussex, Va., may have provided an answer for Maryland, with 14 points and five rebounds. John Johnson, a 6-4 freshman, also made his first collegiate start and scored 10 points.
Maryland's Len Bias led all scorers with 26 points, the seventh time in eight games he has had 20 points or more.
The leading scorer for Towson State was 6-8 forward Steffan Bunsavage, who had 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Towson State was hoping to do better than in the 91-38 beating it took here last year, and the Tigers surprisingly trailed by just 40-34 at intermission, thanks to Bunsavage's 11 points and 11 rebounds. But Bunsavage was limited to two points and one rebound in the second half by forward Derrick Lewis and the Terrapins went on a 30-6 run in a little more than 10 minutes to finalize matters.
"We let them stay in there in the first half before we got serious and broke it open," Maryland Coach Charles G. Driesell said. "At the half I just told them if they didn't play better I'd have them out here for an early practice tomorrow morning. I might have caught their attention."
The play of Massenburg, Maryland's third starter at center in eight games, was a more-than-pleasant surprise to the Terrapins (6-2), who need to find someone reliable in the middle if they are to avoid playing Lewis there rather than at forward.
In addition to Lewis, most of the work has gone to 6-8 junior Terry Long, but he has not been particularly effective, averaging 2.3 points. Another candidate has been 6-9 freshmen David Gregg, who started one game, a loss at Ohio State, and is averaging 2.4 points.
"I figured Coach Driesell was still looking for a center," Massenburg said. "I knew it was my chance to show what I could do if he started me."
Driesell said there was a "good possibility" Massenburg would start again for the Terrapins Dec. 21 against Alabama. Although Massenburg had averaged just 1.7 points off the bench, he has been aggressive.
"I feel more comfortable starting than coming off the bench," he said. "I'm used to starting. It's hard to adjust to just jumping in the game and trying to get in the middle of things."
Massenburg was just one of four freshmen who got extensive use against the Tigers (2-4), and Driesell generally was pleased with them all. Johnson's 10 points was his second double-figure performance. Forward Dave Dickerson added six points, two rebounds, an assist and a steal in 10 minutes. Gregg had a free throw and a blocked shot in 11 minutes.
Jeff Baxter's two free throws gave Maryland a 20-point lead, 64-44, with 10:20 remaining. Bias made it 30 points at 76-46 with his jumper with 5:51 left and departed moments later.
"I liked our offense, but it doesn't look like we're going to shut anybody out with our defense," said Towson State Coach Terry Truax, who was called for a technical during Maryland's 30-6 run. "I'm actually pleased, except for that one stretch, and I kind of lost my composure there too."
The Tigers were an injury-riddled team of just eight last season when the Terrapins beat them for Driesell's 500th career victory, but this year all five starters are returnees. Towson already had faced one other Atlantic Coast Conference team, losing to Virginia, 68-55, in the semifinals of the United Virginia Bank Classic. UDC 85, Dowling 55
Freshman forward Tim Stanfil had 17 points and 10 rebounds as UDC (4-1) increased a five-point halftime lead to win easily over the New York school (2-7) in the opening round of the University of Bridgeport (Conn.) tournament. UDC will play Bridgeport in tonight's 8:30 championship game. St. Mary's (Md.) 70, Gallaudet 68
Roy Thompson scored 24 points, two above his average, to lead St. Mary's (4-5) over visiting Gallaudet (1-7). David Hamilton had 15 points and 12 rebounds for the losers. Charles Community College 82, Montgomery-Takoma 64
Ernie Bruno scored 25 points and Charles took advantage of 17 Montgomery turnovers to win at Montgomery-Takoma. Montgomery, led by Claude Hodge's 19 points and seven assists, is 5-2. Charles is 9-2.