Somehow, one expected something far more celebratory after Maryland finally rid itself of its Atlantic Coast Conference losing streak yesterday. But after a few hugs, some applause and the "Amen" chorus, the Terrapins just walked off the Cole Field House court.

Unlike last season, when Wake Forest ended its 24-game ACC losing streak with a fiesta in Winston-Salem, Maryland low-keyed it after the 93-76 win.

There is work to be done.

To a man, the Terrapins said this season's team has higher goals than just to win a game here and there. But before one can go for a title, one must first get in contention.

"We didn't really get that excited about that," sophomore guard Steve Hood said, "because we know that we have to go to North Carolina and play them again. So we don't really want to get them real mad. I know that last year, when we saw that, it kind of got to us. But we didn't really want to start anything."

"It was definitely on our minds," senior forward Derrick Lewis said. "Especially since we have everybody back this year who was there last year. We saw how excited they were. They had a big celebration for their first ACC win. This year, we have a lot more games to play. We'll celebrate tonight; we'll go back to work tomorrow."

Across the room from Lewis, forward Tony Massenburg was talking about finally making a contribution to an ACC victory after academic and athletic problems that kept him out of uniform for nearly two years.

"This win means a lot to me," he said, "because I felt that the guys last year played well enough in some ACC games to win, but they just had some tough things happen to them at the end. I'm really enjoying this victory, because I know it's Coach {Bob} Wade's first ACC win."

Upstairs, Wade was talking about the long-term benefits, not the immediate gratification.

"It's just the first game," Wade said. "I think that it was important that we just get out of the gate with the rest of the league, not just fall behind. Any time you win your opener, it means a lot because there's somebody underneath you now."

Yesterday, Maryland handled a Wake Forest team that threw a variety of zone defenses at them. The Terrapins weren't in much trouble after the first half, when the Demon Deacons controlled the tempo.

It was a rough game inside, with Lewis and Wake's Ralph Kitley nearly throwing elbows at one point. Wake Forest Coach Bob Staak, who criticized the officials throughout the game, was asked if he was happy with the referees, who gave Maryland a 24-10 foul shot advantage.

"Not in particular," he said. "Were you? . . . I thought we had inside position. Either our guys were falling down or getting pushed. One or the other. I just think that the game's not played on the floor."

But Staak did notice the difference players such as junior guard Rudy Archer and freshman center Brian Williams make for Maryland. Archer scored 10 points and had eight assists; Williams added 12 points inside when the game was in doubt.

"{They have} an experienced point guard who knows how to run the team," Staak said. "And I think they've got a force at 6-10 inside. When you start with those two people, it gives them a dimension they didn't have last year. {Teyon} McCoy is a good player, but last year he was forced to play the point as a freshman and it was very difficult for him."

As of Monday, they may also have senior guard Keith Gatlin and junior forward Rodney Walker. If the two players' grades are sufficient for Wade in his review Monday, he could activate both for Wednesday's game at Missouri.

"When they come back," Archer said, "we'll just turn our game up to another level."

But it's still early, and as Staak pointed out, Maryland has yet to win on the road this season. The Terrapins will get a chance to find out just how improved they are when they go to Missouri.