- The Washington Times - Monday, December 13, 2004

Maryland had moments of brilliance and blunder yesterday en route to a 96-72 victory against North Carolina Asheville at Comcast Center.

Ultimately, the No. 23 Terps (5-2) were simply too good to be threatened by the Bulldogs (1-5) in Maryland’s only game in a two-week stretch before its ACC opener Sunday against Florida State.

It seemed the Terps weren’t even getting a good workout during stretches when they scored effortlessly. However, UNC Asheville exploited Maryland’s defensive letdowns for short runs.

Maryland appeared determined to give reserve guard Mike Jones and center Will Bowers their longest looks of the season, but four starters played at least 25 minutes to help maintain the 20-point cushion.

“We should have never gotten 72 points,” UNC Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach said. “I think [Maryland is] really too free-willed. They shouldn’t have gotten 96. This game should have been 90-60. They let us do some things and the game opened up a little bit.”

Guard John Gilchrist led five Terps in double-figures with 22 points. Guard Chris McCray and forward Travis Garrison each added 15. Forward Bryan McCullough topped UNC Asheville with 16.

Maryland wanted to use the game to work on the little things, and they certainly improved at the foul line after mediocre efforts in the last three games. The Terps made all 13 free throws, second-best in program history to a 19-for-19 effort against Holy Cross in 1985.

“You can get on a roll either way,” Terps coach Gary Williams said. “It certainly hurt us the last couple games. Hopefully, [this] is a good sign for the rest of the way that we’re back shooting well again.”

The Terps also had a rare nonconference chance to face a 7-footer in Bulldogs center C.J. Walker (7-1), who managed six points, four rebounds and three assists. Maryland simply finessed Walker away from the basket rather than allow him to clog the lanes underneath.

“You just go around him,” forward Ekene Ibekwe said. “We wanted them to move around, especially the big guy.”

Gilchrist, who recently had his leadership questioned by George Washington guard J.R. Pinnock, distributed the ball well with seven assists. He committed just one turnover.

“I go with how the team is flowing,” Gilchrist said. “If everybody is scoring, then I take it upon myself to get us in our offense.”

The only Terps’ downside was Jones missing his last eight shots after hitting a 3-pointer. The sophomore didn’t enhance his bid for more minutes.

“Like all shooters, he’s a streak shooter,” Williams said. “He had a tough time putting it down.”

Maryland led 45-34 at halftime after early and late streaks sandwiched around an 11-2 UNC Asheville run. The Terps opened with a 14-0 lead as the Bulldogs missed their first 12 shots. The Terps’ reserves played heavily during a lackluster 6-minute stretch as the visitors closed to 26-21 with 7:06 remaining before halftime.

UNC Asheville’s surge frustrated Maryland after the Terps thought the victory was a formality.

“We have to get over letting teams back in the game,” Gilchrist said. “From now on in ACC season, once you get a lead on a team you have to put them away. A four-minute [bad] stretch and a team is right back in the game.”

The drama soon ended as four Maryland players combined to score 12 points. UNC Asheville countered with seven straight points entering the break.

The Terps eventually opened up a 25-point edge in the second half despite four 3-pointers from UNC Asheville.

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