- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 29, 2006

PHILADELPHIA — Shoddy ballhandling and shaky defense conspired to bring an unpleasant end to the Maryland basketball team’s wild week.

Temple parlayed a late run into a 91-85 victory against the No.18 Terrapins before 10,025 at Liacouras Center, snapping Maryland’s three-game winning streak.

The Owls (11-7) denied Maryland coach Gary Williams his 349th victory with the Terps (14-5), leaving him in a tie with Lefty Driesell atop the school’s victories list.

Mardy Collins had 25 points and a career-high 12 assists and Dustin Salisbery added 23 points for Temple, which produced its highest offensive output in nearly two years.

“Our defense really hurt us a lot this game,” Maryland forward Travis Garrison said. “We didn’t have problems scoring, we just had problems stopping them.”

It was Maryland’s second game since the loss of guard Chris McCray for the rest of the season because of academic ineligibility, and the Terps could have used the senior’s presence to defend Collins when point guard D.J. Strawberry picked up two quick fouls.

In an often physical game — Maryland’s Nik Caner-Medley, who scored a game-high 30 points, described Temple forward Nehemiah Ingram as “a very dirty player” after the two clashed several times — the Terps lost to a team just a week removed from a 60-34 loss at Massachusetts.

“It’s been an interesting week for us,” Williams said.

McCray’s ballhandling expertise also would have helped against Temple’s large guards. Strawberry committed three of the Terps’ 20 turnovers, and his early foul trouble limited his usual aggressiveness and, in turn, his effectiveness.

The junior did not score and after the game reiterated it was his job to settle the team down when there is the temptation to speed up play, a tendency that rarely produces anything good against Temple’s matchup zone.

“There’s no excuses. You have to be ready to play,” Strawberry said. “I feel I let my team down today because I just didn’t perform today. I didn’t do anything out there on the floor. I was terrible.”

The Terps played well for about 34 minutes, overcoming the need to go to a zone at times in the first half because of foul concerns to stay close. Junior guard Mike Jones made five of his school record-tying seven 3-pointers before the break, and Maryland rallied to lead 67-64 with 6:22 remaining.

The Owls then went on a 14-0 run, and the spark came from an unlikely source. Wide-bodied center Wayne Marshall, who averages 6.2 points, backed Garrison toward the basket before delivering a layup, then added a hook over Garrison from several feet out with 5:27 left to give Temple a 68-67 lead.

“You should never be in a hurry to eat when you are sitting at the dinner table,” said Temple coach John Chaney, whose team hadn’t score 90 points in a game since a 98-92 defeat of Massachusetts on March 3, 2004. “Just sit there and wait and the food will come to you.”

Salisbery added a 3-pointer while falling into the Temple bench moments later to make it a four-point game, and the Terps never completely recovered. Beset by turnovers and shaky shooting, Maryland went more than five minutes between field goals.

By then, the Owls were up 12 and assured of a victory.

“We didn’t change anything,” Williams said. “It’s there. We have to take advantage of it. We turned it over, missed a couple easy shots and didn’t make plays. It’s as simple as that.”

It was a different performance than Maryland’s emotional outing three nights earlier at Georgia Tech. The Terps seemed weary late in the game, perhaps drained from an exhausting, distraction-filled week but also probably tired because of Temple’s frustrating style of play.

The loss by itself shouldn’t hurt the Terps’ NCAA tournament hopes too much since the Owls routinely play one of the nation’s most difficult schedules. Even so, there are lessons from the loss to be applied Thursday when North Carolina (12-5, 3-3 ACC) visits Comcast Center.

“We should have won this game,” Garrison said. “Some of the mistakes we made, we just have to learn from them.”

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