Terps Beat Down on Saint Peters

By Jack Rothenberg

Despite a sloppy first half with 11 turnovers, the Maryland Terrapins scored 14 straight points after the visiting St. Peter’s Peacocks scored the game’s first basket. The Terps rode the backs of junior forward Jarius Hamilton, sophomore forward Donta Scott, and sophomore guard Hakim Hart to a 90-54 win over Saint Peter’s. Hart led the way with a career high 33 points in his first career start, Scott celebrated his birthday in style with his second career double double dropping in 14 points to go with a career high 12 rebounds off the bench, and Hamilton, the junior transfer from Boston College poured in 15 – a new high in a Terrapin uniform.

Head coach Mark Turgeon addressed his team’s performance after the game. “The guys lost concentration a little bit [at the end], but just a really good win. If you told me we were going to beat that team the way we did, I probably wouldn’t have believed you,” Turgeon said.

The defense was stout in the first half forcing 10 turnovers and allowing just 23 points.  Combined with 65% shooting, Maryland found themselves with a 42-23 lead at the half. Hart and junior guard Eric Ayala got the Terps going early scoring 12 of Maryland’s first 14 points with Hart’s back to back three pointers complementing Ayala’s inside scoring. The pair finished with 13 and eight points respectively going into the break.

At the start of the second half, the Peacocks threatened the lead as they cut it to 14 in the opening two minutes but Hart knocked down a jumper in between two Hamilton three pointers which pushed Maryland’s advantage back up to 20. 

Maryland was as cold to start the second half as they had been hot throughout the first. Halfway through the period the Terps were shooting a frigid 19% but were able to hold onto a hefty lead because of an abundance of Peacock fouls that put Maryland into the bonus with just over 14 minutes remaining in the contest. The Terps shot a total of 44 free throws, yet they only made 29. Shooting a mere 65% from the line was a poor showing from a team that had shot a collective 83% so far in the young season.

Hart played inspired basketball, shooting 85% from the field. His 33 points were the most scored by a Maryland player since Diamond Stone scored 39 against Penn State in 2015. If Hart, who is gaining confidence, can produce in conference games it will give Maryland a huge lift off the bench and the sophomore could have a big role in the team’s success. Asked in the postgame press conference whether he could believe what Hart was able to do, fellow Philadelphian Scott responded, “Yeah (emphatically and laughing it off). I feel like any number of my guys can go out there and have a breakout game… not just Hakim but other players too.”

Hart got the start due to an elbow injury for junior guard Aaron Wiggins that forced him to miss the entire week of practice. Wiggins did play, but only contributed five points in 23 minutes. According to Turgeon, Wiggins will be back in the starting lineup next time they take the court.

The Terrapins played Saint Peter’s, following two cancellations due to positive COVID-19 tests in opposing programs. Originally the Terps were supposed to face Monmouth and then their northern Maryland foe Towson. Maryland was fortunate enough to find another team on such short notice in Saint Peter’s, because it’s important that they play as many games as possible to prepare for Big Ten play. Maryland has had zero positive test results since the start of the season.

Succeeding another positive test, this time in George Mason’s program, the Terps were scheduled to travel to Harrisburg to play James Madison on Dec. 5.. However, Maryland was notified shortly after their win that the Dukes reported a positive COVID-19 test. Maryland’s next game will now be on Dec. 9 against Clemson in the Big Ten/ACC challenge. 

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