Maryland 89, Virginia Union 59

The No. 24 Maryland men's basketball team found itself in a tightly contested game in its final exhibition last night at Comcast Center. Virginia Union, the reigning Division II national champion, was giving the Terrapins fits for most of the first half.

Maryland finally pulled away to win, 89-59, in its final warmup before Friday's season opener against Fairleigh Dickinson at Comcast Center.

Chris McCray sank four three-point baskets and finished with 18 points to lead Maryland. James Gist added 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Coach Gary Williams "didn't yell at us even though we had a bad half," McCray said. "He just told us to go out there and just play, basically lay it all on the floor."

And that's what they did. After a rugged first 20 minutes, Maryland opened the second half by making three consecutive baskets to take its biggest lead to that point, 43-28. Nik Caner-Medley's three-point basket capped the 7-1 run and began a three-point barrage by the Terrapins. Maryland, which had made only one of four shots from behind the arc before halftime, sank five three pointers in the first 71/2 minutes of the second half. Mike Jones's three-point basket extended the Terrapins' lead to 59-38. Maryland finished 7 of 13 from behind the arc.

Virginia Union had no answer for Maryland's outside shooting. The Panthers made only two of their 17 three-point attempts.

It was a sloppy first half. The Terrapins turned the ball over eight times in the first nine minutes and had 16 turnovers at the half -- four more turnovers than they had in their last exhibition game. The point guards were the main culprits, combining for seven turnovers before halftime. Starter D.J. Strawberry had four and Sterling Ledbetter added three. Maryland finished with 20 turnovers.

"We still have to do a better job of coming up with loose balls," Williams said. "We tried to do too much with it instead of getting possession."

The frantic pace, combined with aggressive defense by both teams, led to a surplus of fouls. Virginia Union reached 10 fouls with 9 minutes 31 seconds left in the first half, which led to 20 trips to the free throw line for Maryland. The Terrapins scored 15 of their 36 first-half points on foul shots. Maryland didn't reach 10 fouls until 20 seconds remained in the first half, but Virginia Union also was a frequent visitor to the free throw line. The Panthers made more foul shots (nine) than they did field goals (eight) in the first half.