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College Basketball

Maryland ends 2-game skid

Terps' Baxter makes first start, lasting impression

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Posted: Saturday February 06, 1999 05:57 PM

  Laron Profit paced the Terrapins with 16 points and six rebounds. AP

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- A surprise lineup change and some unusually sharp outside shooting enabled No. 7 Maryland to end its first losing streak of the season.

The Terrapins took Virginia out of its 3-2 zone with a barrage of 3-pointers, then dominated play under the basket in the second half for an 88-72 victory Saturday.

Maryland (20-4, 8-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) made seven 3-pointers in taking a 44-32 halftime lead. That opened up the inside for freshman Lonny Baxter, making his first college start in place of slumping center Obinna Ekezie.

Baxter scored nine points over the first five minutes of the second half to keep the Terrapins comfortably ahead. He also provided Maryland with an emotional boost with his fervor under both baskets.

"Lonny did a great job just playing hard early. That's tough to do in your first game starting," Terrapins coach Gary Williams said. "I'm sure he was nervous, but at the same time he let it out on the floor. That's what you're looking for."

Baxter, told of the switch shortly before the game, finished with 14 points as the Terrapins bounced back from successive losses at Wake Forest and Duke to reach the 20-victory plateau faster than any team in school history.

Ekezie scored only one point against Wake Forest and had only two rebounds against Duke. Baxter, meanwhile, had 12 points and five rebounds against the Blue Devils. Williams took that into consideration before changing his starting lineup for the first time this season.

"The decision was based on two things: One, we were flat, and two, Lonny had played well at Duke. He just played and didn't care where he was," Williams said. "I wanted that to get through to the rest of the team."

Baxter made six of 10 shots and had five rebounds and two steals in a career-high 26 minutes.

"It was Coach's call. He knows what he's doing," Baxter said. "There was really no difference -- I just have to go out and play my heart out."

Chris Williams scored 24 points and Donald Hand had 16 for the Cavaliers (13-11, 3-8), whose three-game winning streak ended. Virginia has lost six straight at Maryland and nine of 12 against the Terrapins overall, including a 71-66 decision last month.

Maryland's Terence Morris finished with 16 points after scoring only five before halftime, Steve Francis had 10 points and 13 assists and Juan Dixon scored 11 points, all in the first half on 3-for-5 shooting from beyond the arc.

The Terrapins didn't make a 3-pointer in the first Virginia game, but this time they went 7-for-10 in the first half to force the Cavaliers out of their compact zone defense. Maryland led 35-30 before Terrell Stokes, Morris and Danny Miller hit successive 3-pointers for a 14-point lead.

"They shoot 7-for-10 on 3s, well, they do that and they're tough to beat," said Virginia coach Pete Gillen, who was also disturbed over the Cavaliers' 27 turnovers.

Baxter opened the second half with two straight baskets inside to put Maryland up by 16. Minutes later, Ekezie had three points and Morris added a dunk in a 5-0 surge that made it 60-43.

"They've got mountains, we've got little guys," Gillen noted. "Our smaller guys got beat up by their bigger guys."

Virginia closed to 64-57, but Laron Profit made a layup and a 10-footer to stem the charge. A dunk by Baxter made it 75-62 with 5:28 left.

"It was a matter of time before Lonny had a big game," Francis said. "It was just a great all-around effort for him. For us, it's a relief to get the win after two road losses."

 
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