- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 12, 2001

For 20 minutes last night, Monmouth gamely nipped at the heels of the Maryland Terrapins, hitting shot after shot while doing its best to slow down the Terps' myriad offensive weapons.
At halftime, the Terps only led by nine, were disgusted that they permitted the Hawks to shoot 48.5 percent and challenged each other to hold them under 30 in the second half. Maryland did just that, holding Monmouth to six field goals in the second half in rolling to a 91-55 victory before 13,336 at Cole Field House.
The Terps ran their winning streak to eight and their home-court non-conference run to 82, and head into their 10-day break for semester exams in good standing.
"The second half, we did play better. It's a good win to have going into exams," coach Gary Williams said. "We have to keep the edge that we have right now. The Terps had five players score in double figures, paced by Juan Dixon's 18.
Maryland scored on its first seven possessions of the second half, when Dixon, Tahj Holden and Lonny Baxter each had four points in a 15-2 run that Byron Mouton (season-high 17 points) started with a 3-pointer. The Terps eventually racked up 30 of the second half's first 34 points to stretch their lead to 35 over the Hawks (4-4).
Maryland (8-1) pulled away by again limiting its opponent's field-goal shooting, something the Terps have become quite adept at early in the season. The Terps held Monmouth to under 40 percent from the field (23 in the second half), the seventh time in eight games they have held their opponent under 40, and outscored the visitors 45-18 in the final half.
"Coming into the game, we were talking about almost leading the nation in field goal percentage, and to come in at halftime and let them shoot [48.5] percent, we were really frustrated about that," Mouton said.
The first half was a complete contrast. It's not that the Terps played all that poorly, because they shot 61.5 percent; they just ran into a scrappy team that refused to be intimidated or cave in under pressure. When Cameron Milton made a layup with 11:54 to go in the first half after rebounding Chris Wilcox's missed dunk, the Hawks led, 17-16.
It seemed Monmouth would have a terrible time defending the Terps inside with its tallest frontcourt player, 6-10 Kevin Owens, out with a knee injury. And while the height disadvantage cost the Hawks on the defensive end, Monmouth showed some tenacity on offense and hung with the Terps.
With Owens absent, the Hawks, the coaches' preseason favorite to win the Northeast Conference, catered their game to their small personnel. The Terps led by as many as 14 in the first half, at 42-28 with 2:30 left before the break, but two 3-pointers by Russ Anderson, who wasn't supposed to play last night because of a chronic hip flexor strain, narrowed the lead to 46-37 at halftime.
Maryland was only biding its time. Steve Blake (seven assists) led the defensive charge, holding speedy Monmouth guard Rahsaan Johnson, who entered the game averaging 18.9 points per game, to eight points.
Offensively, the Terps pounced after the break, pounding the ball into Baxter (10 points), Holden (11) and Chris Wilcox (10, 13 rebounds) to wear down the Hawks.
"We have a lot of guys on this team who are capable of scoring 20 points on a given night," Dixon said. "You'll probably stop one or two of us, but you can't stop all of us."
The Terps now will prepare for their exams while trying to maintain their high level of play until facing Oklahoma Dec. 21. Holden said much of the Terps' recent efforts have been dedicated to maintaining their focus, and they'll have to keep that up.
"Going into the break, you can't be playing better than we are, considering the circumstances," Holden said. "The way we played in the second half shows we can be a really good team."

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