- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 1, 2006

When No. 16 Maryland needs a reminder of its winning formula in the new year, it may well look to its final game of 2005 as the blueprint.

Five players scored in double figures as the Terrapins cruised to a 99-68 victory over VMI yesterday at Comcast Center in a game utterly devoid of drama.

D.J. Strawberry scored 16 points, Chris McCray had 15 and Parrish Brown added a career-high 13 for the Terps (10-2), who led by at least 30 throughout the second half en route to their fifth straight victory.

Although the outcome was decided well before halftime, the most beneficial aspect of the rout for the Terps might have come after the break. Unlike three days earlier, when Delaware State nearly gave Maryland a scare after falling behind by 26 in the first half, the Terps did not allow the Keydets (5-6) to make an extended run.

“You don’t expect a game like that going into it, and our guys did a good job of being ready to play but also being ready to play at the start of the second half,” Maryland coach Gary Williams said. “It was good to see, especially at this time of year.”

VMI outscored the Terps 48-43 in the second half, but much of that came with the starters off the floor. McCray and Travis Garrison both departed a little more than seven minutes into the second half, and the entire starting five was on the bench for good with more than 10 minutes left.

That left it to the backups, who collectively committed three turnovers after the break. Brown was especially impressive in his longest stint of the season, coolly running the offense and continuing to show he could be useful once conference play resumes Saturday at Miami. He could provide Strawberry with some much-needed rest against tougher, more physical foes.

“In practice, we pretty much play on the same team, so it was kind of relaxing,” Brown said. “Coach was saying, ‘You guys play a lot together in practice, so it should be easy knowing where everyone is.’”

One by-product of the familiarity might have been 13 assists on 16 second-half baskets, an efficiency that reflected both Maryland’s season-high 28 assists and the Terps’ determination to avoid sleepwalking through another second half.

“If we want to be a team that competes for a national championship, we have to play well for 40 minutes,” forward Nik Caner-Medley said. “We can’t just play well for 20 and pack it in just because we think … the game’s all over. We needed to learn to play for 40 minutes, and we did tonight.”

The Terps established the rout early, scoring the first 13 points en route to a 17-2 lead. Maryland made its first seven shots to bury the Keydets and forced six turnovers in the first five minutes.

The fast start helped Maryland absorb the inevitable slow stretch. With the starters on the bench in the middle of the first half, Maryland piled up turnovers, but even then VMI could only pull within 25-15.

“We weren’t sloppy when we had to be,” Williams said. “You start the game and make your first [seven] shots, I’ll take that.”

The complete return of the first team ended any doubt as Maryland ripped off a 29-2 run. The starters again gave way to the bench in the middle of the outburst, and this time the reserves helped finish off the dominant stretch.

James Gist delivered consecutive baskets before Brown made back-to-back 3-pointers. Mike Jones capped the stretch with a layup to make it 54-17.

“Intimidation, I think, is the best word for it,” VMI coach Duggar Baucom said. “They took our candy, and we couldn’t do anything about it.”

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