Knoche: Maryland cruises past Longwood

Knoche: Maryland cruises past Longwood
February 10, 2011, 3:25 am
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 10:17 p.m.

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By Chris Knoche
CSNWashington.com Contributor

The Maryland Terrapins raced to an 11-0 lead in the first 90 seconds of the game tonight against the visiting Longwood College Lancers and were never seriously threatened. The end result for the night was a 106-52 thrashing in front of an announced crowd of 14,526 at Comcast for a rare non-conference February game.

Maryland head coach Gary Williams had scheduled this game last summer simply to avoid being off for a complete week in between important ACC games. At that point he probably did not know just how important the upcoming ACC game will be to his team.

He does now.

This upcoming Saturday the Terps will visit Boston College with both teams trying desperately to get themselves on to the top tier of the conference to prove themselves NCAA tournament worthy. The game will be a rematch of an early December game won by the Eagles on the road at Comcast Center. They won that game largely by nailing huge three pointers down the stretch of the game after the Terps appeared to be on the verge of putting them away a few times in the second half.

Given all of the Maryland near-misses in the early part of the season, that one game in retrospect- seems to be the one that haunts them the most at this time. Had they beaten BC that afternoon they would be sitting at 17-7 overall and 6-3 in conference play. With numbers like that they may very well have been in better shape perceptually than they currently seem to be.

OK, back to tonights game.

It was a bludgeoning.

Maryland placed six players, including four starters, in double figures led by Sean Mosleys 20 and Terrell Stoglins 15. Senior Dino Gregory added 14 points and a career high 11 rebounds. Ironically one Terp not in double figures was sophomore center Jordan Williams. Williams finished with 11 rebounds but only 9 points on the night. He endured significant foul issues and played only 21 minutes in the game.

The other issue for Williams was Longwoods insistence on making other Maryland players beat them. The Lancers employed a box and one defense on Williams and had all of their defensive players sag into the key. The result was a host of opportunities for the Terps from the perimeter. In the first half they settled for the first open three point opportunity and shot only 5-19 from beyond the arc. They compensated for that by dominating the glass and by getting easy shots on the fast break and led 50-22 at the break.

To try and take Williams out of the Maryland equation is a sound strategy, no doubt. Yet, even with Maryland players making their shots through the second half and the lead growing to thirty, then forty, then fifty, Longwood stayed in their box and one whenever Williams was in the game. At some point the moral victory of keeping Williams away from a double-double has to be outweighed by getting your asses kicked, but I digress.

A Cliff Notes version of the highlights of the game would be the continued impressive play of Maryland freshman PeShon Howard as the starting point guard and reserves Hawk Paulsson and Stoglin off of the bench.

The win also marked the 665th of Gary Williams remarkable coaching career and moved him past the Wizard of Westwood legendary UCLA head coach John Wooden- for all time wins. He was roundly cheered by fans remaining at the end of the night with a standing ovation and red placards that read, simply, 665."

On to Boston College. With both teams fighting for their tournament lives as well as trying to break a logjam of teams in the middle of the pack in the league, the stakes could not be higher. Boston College appears to have been a team whose sum is greater than the addition of its parts and that is a credit to first year head coach Steve Donahue. They have been very good at home and have found some success of late playing an extremely small lineup by normal ACC standards.

In that first matchup the Terps missed a bevy of open shots from the perimeter and then missed critical free throws down the stretch. Expect another close game in Chestnut Hill on Saturday afternoon. While both teams are built completely differently and have completely different strengths, it only seems appropriate that a critical ACC game will go down the wire once again.