The Maryland men’s basketball team continued its trend of sluggest starts in its non-conference game against Oakland on Saturday afternoon. The Terrapins’ were plagued by turnovers and inconsistent shooting, which allowed the Grizzlies to remain competitive for a good part of the first half.
“Sometimes when you get the number seven in front of your name and you haven’t quite earned it,” Terps’ Head Coach Mark Turgeon said. “You think you’re supposed to beat everybody by 25 in each half and that’s not the case in college basketball.”
Maryland woke up during the final six minutes of the first half, executing a 11-0 run that would end up being the difference maker in the Terps’ 80-50 victory at the Xfinity Center.
“We kept guarding,” Turgeon said. “Then we just made a couple of shots. We got the ball to [Jalen Smith], he did the turning face jumper, the left hook and sunk the shot in right before the half. We just made shots, we made plays, and we kept guarding and that’s how we were able to do it.”
Maryland’s (3-0) defensive aggression continues to be a bright spot, as the Terps held Oakland (3-2) 36.5% shooting and forced 19 turnovers, which turned into 25 points at the other end. Smith had a huge hand in Maryland’s defensive effort, recording three steals and three blocks.
“The team, as well as Coach Turgeon, feels like our defense is one of our strong points,” Maryland junior guard Darryl Morsell said. “The guards are focused on keeping the ball in front of them and the bigs are focused on protecting the rim, fronting the post.”
Morsell feed off of Maryland’s scoring run, recording 10 points and a pair of three pointers during the first seven minutes of the second half. Morsell finished the game with 14 points and seven rebounds.
“Darryl is in the gym every night because he wants to be the guy you have to guard,” Turgeon said. “It’s good for a guy like that to put so much time in to make shots.”
Senior point guard Anthony Cowan Jr. was setting the tone offensively, distributing a season-high seven assists to go along with 11 points and six rebounds. Sophomore guard Aaron Wiggins tallied 10 points and shook the rim with a emphatic one-handed slam in the middle of the second half. Wiggins also stepped up on the defensive end, registering three steals.
“Aaron’s a hard worker,” Morsell said. “He’s always been somebody that embraces defense, it’s just something that he had to learn. I think through his freshman year he learned how important defense was, and in the off season that’s something that he really focused on. He’s definitely stepped it up this year defensively.”
Maryland’s next game will be at home against Fairfield on Nov. 19. Tip-off will be at 8:30 pm.