By Jack Rothenberg
Maryland easily handled the Binghamton Bearcats at Xfinity Center Tuesday night. The Terps led from wire-to-wire in a 76-52 win, in which forward Julian Reese matched his career-high 19 points and the defense forced 15 turnovers. Maryland had three players get into double figures
The Terps played a nearly flawless first half. Defensive intensity, rebounding and scoring down low were all on display and propelled Maryland to a big opening frame.
Maryland’s stifling defense has been at the forefront of the last two games. First against Niagara, allowing 15 first half points, and now against Binghamton. 15 turnovers and less than 34 percent shooting from the floor from the Bearcats. That’s back-to-back games for the Terps, holding their opponent under 35 percent shooting.
“(The defense) gives everybody energy. Once we get those turnovers it leads to fastbreak points. And once we have fastbreak points, it’s in the back of our mind that we don’t need to go as aggressive at times,” forward Donta Scott said.
Maryland benefitted from their full-court press, and it paid dividends. “Hopefully a quote about the press. The press allowed the Terps to apply even more pressure and force more turnovers. It also slowed the Bearcats down. A team trying to pull a big upset isn’t as lethal when they’re grinding out every point on offense.
Guard Hakim Hart, who had been relatively quiet in the first two games, got off to a fast start with 13 first half points. “I got to do a better job of just getting him involved earlier. To be honest with you, I’m still trying to figure him out,” Willard said.
Scott (10 points and nine rebounds) and Reese (seven rebounds), were big on the offensive glass in the first half. Maryland racked up 10 offensive rebounds, which led to eight second chance points. The Terps dominated the boards through the second half and ended with a 42-38 rebounding edge, which isn’t reflective of the meaningful portions of gametime.
Reese put an exclamation point on the first half with a slam that shook the rim, as Maryland took a 44-23 lead into the break.
Maryland’s shooting woes continued from beyond the arc, but in all three games it hasn’t mattered. The Terps have had the advantage inside and exploited it. Maryland recorded 32 of their 44 first half points in the paint. “It’s definitely a confidence booster (when we can score in the paint)…Especially when shots aren’t, yeah it’s just a confidence booster,” Reese said.
The Terps shot over 50 percent from the floor for the first time this season, and that was a byproduct of where they were getting their shots. Only 15 of Maryland’s 63 shots were from three-point range. The majority were in close, at the rim and high percentage.
The Terps cruised in the second half and on both sides of the court. Nine Terps got in the scoring column and Maryland’s lead grew over 20 right at the beginning of the second frame.
Guard Jahmir Young added to his highlight reel with a sweet no-look dish to Reese, which led to a dunk and pushed the Terps’ lead to 31 with just over five minutes remaining.
Willard admitted postgame, one area of concern is their three-point shooting, but it’s not full blown panic mode just yet. “I’m starting to get a little worried, to be honest with you. They all can shoot the basketball. So we’re unfortunately settling every once in a while,” Willard said.
Maryland will travel to Mohegan Sun for the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic this weekend. They’ll take on St. Louis and with Providence or Miami (FL). This will be a good test for the Terps, after they’ve taken care of business and looked dominant over smaller and worse teams thus far.
Maryland vs. St. Louis – Nov. 19 @ 1 p.m.
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