- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 28, 2000

MARYLAND 117, CHICAGO ST. 55

It got so ridiculous at Cole Field House last night that Maryland fans were cheering when the other team scored which wasn't often. The opponents' jerseys read "Chicago State." They may as well have said "Butter," because the Terps sliced right through the Cougars 117-55.

Maryland led 22-0, then 40-8. Chicago State missed four shots and committed five turnovers before registering a point. When the Cougars finally and mercifully scored nearly five minutes in, the crowd of 13,506 responded with a sarcastic applause.

"I just can't describe how our intensity was," said Maryland forward Byron Mouton, whose team forced 15 turnovers in the first half. "It was so high. No matter who we are playing, we can't let up. And we didn't."

Though the rout of the Division I fodder was impressive, the most encouraging sign for Maryland came from struggling power forward Terence Morris. The senior preseason All-American seems to be regaining his confidence through aggressive play, and even got into a scuffle on the way to a 14-point, eight-rebound effort.

"I'm not really into the offensive flow," said Morris, who is still indecisive at times. "My defense is there."

Maryland (8-3) won its seventh straight, the program's longest streak since the 1998-99 season. The mauling of Chicago State (3-7) also extended the nation's longest nonconference home winning streak to 75 games. Maryland will have one final tuneup for its ACC opener next Wednesday at Clemson when it hosts Maryland-Eastern Shore on Saturday.

Juan Dixon led the way with 24 points, including four of six 3-pointers, eight assists and five (of the team's 16) steals. Teammate Lonny Baxter added 21 points on 6-for-7 shooting. Point guard Steve Blake totaled 12 assists to key the attack. The Terps scored on their first five possessions and eight of their first nine.

"Lots of fun," Blake said of the game's opening moments. "Twenty-two to nothing. You can't ask for anything better."

Mouton (11 points) started things off with a steal and layup, along with a free throw, in the first minute. Dixon nailed consecutive 3-pointers to open the lead to nine and made it 20-0 with a soft turnaround jumper from just inside the lane. Mouton closed the 22-point stretch with a 15-foot jumper from the right baseline.

"I think [defense] is what got us the [big] win," said reserve center Mike Mardesich, who had a career-high 15 points on seven of eight shooting. "The defense has been real consistent the last couple of weeks."

The visitors finally scored on a running layup by Tony Jones with 15:14 left in the half. Chicago State had hoped to challenge Maryland on the inside with 7-foot-1, 285-pound center Darrell Johns. But the big man did little, finishing with six points on three of 10 shooting, though he did have six rebounds.

Johns was ineffective as the Terps forced turnovers off their full-court pressure and routinely converted layups and wide-open jump shots.

Morris' tussle came late in the first half as he went on the floor to battle Jones for a loose ball. The Maryland forward tried to reach around, and the two got into a pushing match. After getting up, Morris was restrained by officials and teammates as he pointed and jawed with Jones. Blake pushed Jones after the play and was issued a technical foul.

Chicago State coach Bo Ellis got so frustrated that he spent much of the game muttering to himself on the sideline as his team sputtered on the floor. The former Marquette assistant benched a player when it was 89-33 and yelled at him, "Get out. You're scared. Sit down."

After the 62-point defeat, Ellis said, "Maryland was like a piranha… . When I told our players Maryland would come at us, I don't think they understood what we really meant."

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