UMD Past Rutgers 56-51 in a Dogfight
Maryland Extends Their Mid-season Win Streak
Zachary Wilson and Wayne Viener
Following a strong home showing against Iowa to put the Terps back in the AP top 10, the Terrapins hosted the defensively driven Rutgers Scarlet Knights in an absolute dogfight of a match.
The Terps came out strong to start off this game, especially Jalen Smith who accounted for Maryland’s first 8 points, and it seemed as though the early barrage was going to blow Rutgers out of this one early. Rutgers flipped the script with a 19-2 scoring run and UMD would fall into a 9 minute scoring drought, by the end of which they would be down by 5.
Even though they were down by 5, the Terps should’ve considered themselves lucky as Rutgers was in a position to build a sizeable lead if their offense was up to par with some of the others in the B1G. This is a Rutgers team that can barely shoot above 30% on any given night, so it’s no surprise that they were unable to take advantage of the opportunity that Maryland gave them.
The second half showed some great Maryland defense and included a spurt of high flying blocks and dunks that shook Xfinity Center. Just when the Terps build an 8 point lead, Rutgers fought back. The way Rutgers plays forces teams to adjust to their pace with strong defense and hope they can retaliate with their subpar offense.
At the end, it became a matter of whether or not UMD was going to be capable of making contested shots and nailing free throws or if Rutgers was to make two or three shots in a row.
Thanks to the help of Darryl Morsell, Jalen Smith and with Anthony Cowan awakening late, the Terps would find an offensive groove and keep their undefeated home record in tact.
Advancing their win streak to 5, the Terps are back on the road in a ranked faceoff against Illinois on Friday, February 7th for 1st place in the B1G.
Notable Statlines, The Good and The Not So Good:
Jalen Smith- With another double-double for this season, Smith also totaled a season high 6 blocks to assert his pressure on the defensive side of the ball. Smith continues to improve his overall play with every start, and I’m sure he’ll join his former teammate Bruno Fernando in the NBA come the draft.
Maryland’s Defense-Whether or not it was Maryland’s defense or the ineptitude of the Scarlet Knight’s offense, Maryland held RU to bad shooting the whole night. Their adjustments in the second half took Rutgers shooting from nearly 40% in the first half down to 30% in the second, the deciding factor of the whole game. There is much of a statement here, considering that elongated scoring drought, that Rutgers’ top scorer would only net 13 points as opposed to Anthony Cowan who had 17.
The Not So Good:
Eric Ayala-To put it simply, Ayala looked completely uncomfortable shooting the ball tonight. Finishing with 0 points on 0-6 shooting while coming off the bench is one thing, but to start and play in such a way is unacceptable. Ayala did find ways to contribute through his 2 assists and 6 rebounds, but he will need a redemption game on Friday against Illinois.
Consistency On Offense-Yes, Rutgers is a very defense focused team, but that does not account for a nearly 9 minute scoring drought where Maryland couldn’t even get to the free throw line in a portion of the first half. As previously stated, a team like Michigan State would be up by far more than just 5 at the half with this kind of offensive clumsiness. At least they were able to bounce back into this game and barely escape with a win.
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