By: Jack Rothenberg
The Maryland Terrapins failed to capitalize on the momentum they built earlier in the week against Rutgers, losing to the Indiana Hoosiers 68-55. While the Terps had defensive struggles all afternoon, their true issues came on the offensive end. Maryland’s top three offensive threats, senior guards Eric Ayala, Fatts Russell and junior forward Donta Scott combined to shoot 6-31 Saturday and as a team the Terps made only 16 field goals.
The Terps picked up right where they left off against Rutgers, jumping out 8-0 just over two minutes into the game. Senior guard Eric Ayala (6 points, 2-10 3 pt. Field goals) made the first basket of the game from beyond the arc, which got the energy flowing early for Maryland. Ayala, who passed Jake Layman for fifth-most three pointers made in school history against Rutgers, tied Mike Jones against the Hoosiers for fourth on the list with 203.
Indiana punched right back with a 13-0 run of their own, as the Maryland offense went silent after their ferocious start. Over this stretch, freshman forward Julian Reese replaced senior forward Qudus Wahab and Indiana began to dominate in the paint. Reese, who has been featured often this season and has been a big addition, was blocked twice on the offensive end and picked up two fouls on defense. As a result, the big man played less than five minutes in the half.
While Maryland couldn’t get shots to fall, their ability to cut off-ball into the lane bought them a few easy baskets. Xavier Green and Hakim Hart were the benefactors of those cuts and helped the Terps climb back into the game. Also, senior guard Fatts Russell’s ability to drive the lane and draw defenders came up huge. Russell (12 points and 3 assists), had three assists in the first half, including an alley-oop to Wahab that gave the Terps a 24-23 lead with five minutes left.
A closely contested game through the first 15 minutes derailed when Maryland’s offense failed to make its presence felt in the final minutes of the first half. Indiana mounted a 10-0 run on the back of junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis (17 points), who scored 12 points in the period, to distance themselves from the Terps and take a 33-26 lead into halftime.
The latter part of the first half told the entire story of the second half. The Hoosiers opened the fresh half with a three-pointer, and didn’t look back. It was a period that had very few highlights for Maryland, as Indiana built their lead
up to 17 with a little over 10 minutes remaining, and had a strangle-hold on the Terps not letting Maryland get closer than thirteen over the final stretch.
The Terps had struggles guarding Jackson-Davis down low, but their real issue was the inability to make shots and especially the open ones. Prior to garbage time, Hart was the only Terp to score in double-figures, and the assortment of Russell, Scott and Ayala combined for 25 points. Hart has now scored 10 or more points in 12 of his last 14 games.
Maryland now turns to the No. 10 ranked Michigan State Spartans who will travel to College Park this Tuesday facing the Terps in their annual “Gold Rush” game. While there were a ton of problems for Maryland on the defensive end, the Terps’ must get back on the right path when it comes to shooting the ball. That starts with Ayala and Scott, who will need to make their presence felt if the Terps are to have any chance against the Spartans.
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