- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 28, 2008

The middle of the first half arrived, and Maryland was in firm control of what became its fifth consecutive victory.

Still, it was easy to hear coach Gary Williams imploring his team to snap out of its daze Saturday.

“Move, move,” he yelled, his pleas echoing through half-empty Comcast Center. At times the Terrapins acceded to his request. At others, they didn’t.

In the end, Maryland spit out a 72-51 rout of Bryant. Few will remember the details for long. Even fewer will care to recall the sort of December pounding most major-college programs inflict each year.

It was no masterpiece, no obvious building block for the Terps (9-2) as they inch closer to conference play. It just sort of happened, not the type of development Maryland can afford to repeat the rest of the way.

“It’s tough to get mad at yourself or discipline yourself when you’re winning by 20,” said forward Landon Milbourne, who scored 15 points. “It’s hard, but we have to look past that. We can’t play the score. We have to play the game. We have to stop worrying about who we’re playing against and think about who have coming ahead of us.”

It was hardly all bad against the Bulldogs (1-10). Greivis Vasquez scored 19 points, and the Terps controlled the paint in their return from a brief Christmas break.

Maryland led 24-7 just more than eight minutes in, then promptly rehashed the script from five days earlier, when it followed a strong start against American with plenty of lackluster moments.

The Terps enjoyed several advantages to cushion their sluggishness. Bryant committed 19 turnovers, leading to 29 Maryland points, and Maryland inflicted much of that damage on the fast break.

That’s to be expected against a first-year Division I program - but not against the ACC schedule set to begin in less than two weeks.

“Long range, those things won’t always be there,” Williams said. “The advantage of the bench, the advantage of being fresher than the other team. We can’t rely on steals and turnovers as how we score all the time. We have to be able to score out of the halfcourt offense.”

Rebounding was a particular concern for Williams after the Terps managed an even split with the Bulldogs. Bryant dropped into a matchup zone for much of the afternoon, ensuring a good chance at having someone in proximity to the basket whenever a shot went astray.

Still, the Terps’ size advantage should have yielded better numbers. But it was fitting on a day that Maryland thrived when its starters were on the floor but slogged along when the reserves were inserted en masse.

Vasquez effectively finished off the Bulldogs late in the first half, connecting on three 3-pointers in less than two minutes. Later, he awed the remnants of the crowd with a behind-the-back pass to Milbourne deep into the second half.

Otherwise, it was a fairly highlight-free affair as the Terps ran out the final 30 minutes. Those nights are barely tolerable with the calendar poised to flip to a new year but near-certain to be punished upon the arrival of conference play.

“I don’t know what happened,” guard Cliff Tucker said. “We started out good, and we just didn’t finish the game as well. Even though we won by 20, we still didn’t play good. The teams in the ACC, if we played the way we played we probably would have got killed, so we just want to play these teams well to prepare for the upcoming teams in the ACC.”

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