By Jack Rothenberg
A fantastic defensive effort led the Maryland Terrapins to a 71-51 defeat of the Western Carolina Catamounts. Sophomore forward Julian Reese, one of three Maryland double-figure scorers, poured in 19 points and 12 rebounds. The Terps held Western Carolina to 27 percent shooting.
This won’t go down as Maryland’s prettiest win of the season, but the shots weren’t falling and as a result, the team got it done on the defensive end. Maryland shot 2-19 from three.
The Terps had the obvious advantage inside and exploited it all night. Reese, who some thought had an off-night against Niagara, dominated the paint. On the back of the big man, Maryland built an early 20-10 lead.
Despite 39 percent shooting in the first half, the Terps’ defense picked up the slack and held Western Carolina to six made field goals in the first 20 minutes. The Catamounts converted only one of their last nine shots before halftime.
Maryland got away from the post-game as the half progressed, and settled for countless early in the shot clock threes. The Terps didn’t find the same success there, going 0-8 in the half. Guards Don Carey and Ike Cornish combined 0-4 during this period.
Carey didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but head coach Kevin Willard said after the game that he has the utmost confidence in his starting shooting guard. “I’ll let Don Carey shoot the ball anytime, anywhere…he has the ultimate green light,” Willard said.
Both teams had scoring droughts of close to three minutes in the latter part of the half, but the difference proved to be the last three minutes. The Terps outscored Western Carolina 10-3 in the final minutes to take a 32-15 lead heading into the break.
15 points is the fewest Maryland has allowed in a game since 2014 against Michigan State. That evening the Terps gave up 14 first half points and secured their first victory in the Big Ten.
The start of the second 20 minute frame began much like the first. A lot of defense and not many made shots. The Terps had distance throughout, but really started to blow the contest open around 10 minutes in. Reese pulled down a rebound, ran the floor and made an and-one basket to push Maryland’s lead to 16.
“(They have) a little pesky guard…so I had to set a screen, free (guard Jahari Long) up a little. As you all saw it opened up things for me, made the right decision with the pass and I finished it,” Reese said.
The Terps benefitted from nine second half points from Reese.
Maryland also buried Western Carolina in transition. The Terps had 19 fast-break points, making up for their shooting woes, and were deemed to be too much for the Catamounts to handle.
An interesting development tonight is that Maryland didn’t press once. This, following Monday night where they pressed after each made basket.
Maryland’s next matchup is on Nov. 15 at home against Binghamton.
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