Chances are Maryland will play very few basketball games this season that purists would find esthetically pleasing, but last night in a sweltering Cole Field House Gary Williams's team was very much in its element. Overcoming the heat, inconsistent shooting and rebounding and 22 turnovers, Maryland toughed out a 72-59 victory over Southern California.
"A lot of people have been asking what we're playing for this season -- tonight is what we're playing for," said Williams of a Maryland team that can't appear on live television or compete in postseason tournaments. "We wanted that game and I think it showed."
The unusually warm weather outside carried into the gymnasium and only intensified an often-emotional affair. At one point in the first half, referee Dick Paparo took Williams and Southern Cal Coach George Raveling aside to warn them about trouble brewing among the players. After halftime, the referee admonished Cedric Lewis, Garfield Smith and Trojans forward Mark Boyd for roughhousing.
Walt Williams led Maryland (2-0) with 20 points, while Smith hit nine of 10 shots from the field, scoring 19 points and adding 12 rebounds. Matt Roe scored 16 and Lewis had 8 points, 14 rebounds and 6 blocked shots.
The toughest player on the floor, though, might have been Maryland forward Vince Broadnax. Having to deal with the heat and USC guard Harold Miner, the junior acquitted himself well on both counts.
Miner, the Trojans' all-American candidate, led all scorers with 22 points and hit half his 20 field goal attempts, but never took control because of Broadnax and reserve guard Kevin McLinton, who stepped in to provide breathers.
"I watched tapes of him last night so I had an idea of what he liked to do with the ball," said Broadnax, who had nine rebounds. "I figured I would just stay as close to him as possible, not let him get the ball at all if I could help it. The heat was really bad though. It took your energy away quickly. I'd go to the bench for timeouts, but once you walked back on the floor it took the energy away again."
Miner hit a three-point field goal with 12:25 left to give USC (1-1) a 42-40 lead. Less than a minute later Roe came up with a three-pointer for Maryland, as did Walt Williams following a Miner turnover. The back-to-back three-pointers began a 14-4 spurt that put Maryland in control.
A steal and dunk by Miner closed the Trojans to 59-53 with 4:57 to play but on the next possession, Smith tipped in a Lewis miss while being fouled by Miner. The junior completed the three-point play, then added a power layup a minute later that iced the game.
Initially, it was thought Smith was nine for nine from the field, which would have put him in the Maryland record books for field goal perfection.
But an amended box score was issued. "If I would have known he was that close I would have pulled him from the game anyway," said Williams with a laugh. He happens to be one of the players who holds the mark (eight for eight against South Carolina in 1966).
"I wasn't even thinking about my shooting because the coaches were getting on me about getting on the boards," Smith said. Assistant coach Billy Hahn "gave me a man-to-man talk at halftime. He told me I had to go to the boards and hold on to them if I wanted to stay in the game."
Although Maryland had a 48-33 rebounding edge, Southern Cal had 17 offensive rebounds USC shot 39 percent from the field; the squads combined for five of 29 on three-pointers and 14 for 29 from the foul line.
"They say we have to play five players at a time, so we did, but I'd be hard-pressed to say that any of our guys played well," said Raveling. "But if I were Gary Williams I'd be mad if anyone picked that team to finish last in the ACC."
The Terps see it as added incentive. "There isn't a lot expected of us this year and we want to prove people wrong," said Lewis. "To do that we have to come out and play as hard as we did tonight."