- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 14, 2004

Maryland found confidence above the rim that may ripple through the season.

The No. 15 Terrapins shrugged off a slow start through a series of dunks to trounce Carleton University of Canada 89-60 yesterday in an exhibition at Comcast Center. Guard Chris McCray’s 17 points led five Maryland players in double figures as the Terps prepared for their regular-season opener against Jackson State on Friday.

A monster dunk by freshman forward James Gist fueled a second-half surge. Nicknamed “The Beast” by some teammates, Gist delivered perhaps the Terps’ best slam since Chris Wilcox stole a halfcourt pass against Duke in 2002 and left his feet at the foul line en route to the rim.

“James has that explosive ability just like Wilcox,” forward Mike Grinnon said. “He gave us an energy boost. We’re going to have to rely on that sometimes this year.”

McCray slipped a no-look pass to Gist on his right side rather than go to guard John Gilchrist on his left. Gist hammered a thunderous two-handed dunk and landed on the shoulders of Ravens guard Sheldon Stewart.

“When I jumped, I didn’t see anything but the basket,” Gist said, “and when I came down I didn’t know where he came from. Chris McCray gave me one of the best passes I’ve ever seen and it opened it up for me to finish.”

Said McCray: “I knew he would get up in the air, but I didn’t think he was going to do something like that. That was one of the more crazy dunks I’ve seen in my life. He gets up. He gets up.”

The exciting play inspired the rest of the Terps’ lineup. Gist (13 points) soon followed with two more dunks, and an offense that once struggled to pass inside became much more fluid.

“Certain field goals mean more than two points,” coach Gary Williams said. “That was one of them. The dunk was great, but everybody did a great job on that play, setting the screen to release James. The pass was pretty good. Everybody knew it was a team play and any time you can run a play with three or four guys involved, if you’re a good team player that certainly excited you.”

The emotion even spilled over to the bench when Gilchrist slammed a water bottle during a timeout following a defensive breakdown.

“Sometimes you have to show emotion to make everybody play hard,” Gilchrist said. “Sometimes people don’t understand the sense of urgency to be a great team. If everyone’s not showing that intensity I feel it’s my job to explain to everyone how important the situation is.”

The Terps spent the week working on defense after a lackluster 100-85 exhibition victory over Bryant University on Nov.5. Maryland yesterday opened with three straight steals for a 9-0 lead, but Carleton closed to 31-27 with 5:20 remaining before the Terps finished with a 14-2 run for a 45-29 halftime lead.

“The last five minutes of the first half we played with good intensity necessary to play good teams,” Williams said. “I thought that would carry through the start of the second half, but it didn’t. We had to make some changes out there. If you’re talented and play hard … there’s no magic other than that.”

Maryland was sluggish over the first five minutes of the second half. The Terps produced just three free throws as the Ravens closed to 49-40. However, Gist’s dunk fueled an 8-0 streak for a 57-40 lead with 13:39 remaining.

“A lot of things are happening now and [it’s] an overload to a lot of guys new to the system,” Gilchrist said. “The dunk got James rolling.”

The Terps finally began to penetrate the Ravens’ defense for 12 unanswered points. Gist scored eight points — including two dunks — and Mike Jones added four for a 75-52 lead with 7:30 remaining as fans started chanting their victory song.

Maryland played all 12 healthy players with only guard Sterling Ledbetter (bruised calf) resting. Nine played between 17 to 27 minutes as Williams experimented with reserves trying to finalize his rotation.

“We have to play with a certain intensity level or it doesn’t matter the names out there on the court,” Williams said.

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