- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 5, 2004

Maryland needed just five minutes to dispatch George Mason yesterday. The rest was an afterthought.

The No. 12 Terrapins throttled Mason 78-54 in the BB&T; Classic at MCI Center. Maryland plays for the tournament championship today against George Washington, a 96-83 victor over No.11 Michigan State.

“It was like Maryland was the car and we were the deer,” Mason coach Jim Larranaga said. “When the headlights came on, we just froze.”

The Terps used a 16-0 run to take an 18-2 lead that ended any drama between the local teams. Maryland maintained the 20-point buffer throughout the first half despite both teams scoring little over the final 10 minutes. Maryland stretched the lead to 66-29 with 11 minutes remaining in the second half before Mason hit three 3-pointers for its only short burst.

“We came out with a good intensity level,” Maryland coach Gary Williams said. “They had played us tough before and that gave us a little incentive to really get ready to play. We certainly were ready.”

Forward Nik Caner-Medley and guard Chris McCray led Maryland with 20 points each. Forward Jai Lewis topped the Patriots with 12 points and 13 rebounds.

Maryland sought redemption after its 69-64 loss at No.25 Wisconsin on Tuesday. It was quickly evident as Maryland’s defense stripped Mason’s ballhandlers for easy transition baskets. The Terps admitted wanting to prove the erratic play against Wisconsin wasn’t their norm.

“Any time you feel like you’ve had a letdown, you want to come back in the next game and show them,” guard John Gilchrist said. “We wanted to make a statement that we were going to be the dominant team.”

It made for a strange Maryland box score. Forward Ekene Ibekwe was scoreless after missing all six shots while forward Travis Garrison managed just two points on three shots. However, Maryland outscored Mason 40-18 in the paint as little-used centers Will Bowers and Hassan Fofana each had four points and forward James Gist scored six.

Maryland’s balanced offense produces different stars in different games, and this was Caner-Medley’s turn after he made just two of nine shots against Wisconsin. Caner-Medley scored nine points during Maryland’s early 16-point run.

The Wisconsin loss inspired Caner-Medley to come back as a floor leader and he clearly ran the Terps offense underneath.

“In the Wisconsin game, it was one of those deals where shots weren’t falling,” he said. “I was getting good shots, but they weren’t falling. Today they were. The pace was more our style. Up and down, we’re used to it.”

Williams said Caner-Medley needs to avoid shouldering the offense and wait for chances rather than force plays.

“Nik was in better position a lot of times,” Williams said. “He wasn’t off balance, he wasn’t forcing anything. Sometimes when you miss a couple, you get into a tendency where you force. Players have to trust the offense that if they’re a good player they’ll get theirs.”

The Terps held the Patriots to 14.4 percent field goal shooting in the first half as Mason missed its first 15 3-point attempts over nearly 30 minutes. Mason needed more than 14 minutes to reach double digits and trailed 38-15 at halftime after shooting 4-for-27. The Patriots didn’t begin scoring regularly until the final 10 minutes, when the Terps substituted freely.

Maryland played sloppy underneath with three Terps drawing four fouls. Mason converted 22 of 30 free throws but hit just four of 23 3-point attempts.

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