By Jack Rothenberg
Former Maryland Terrapin and current Coppin State head coach Juan Dixon was welcomed back home with a 95-79 loss to the Terps behind big performances from sophomore forward Juju Reese (24 points and 10 rebounds) and senior guards Hakim Hart (22 points and eight rebounds) and Jahmir Young (21 points and five assists).
Both teams came out making shots, and specifically senior guard Sam Sessoms (28 points and six assists) who was 3/3 from beyond the arc in the first half, which helped the Eagles stay within striking distance. Sessoms transferred from Penn State this off-season.
Coppin State out-shot Maryland from the field at 55 percent, and eclipsed 50 percent shooting in both halves.
The Terps had an obvious advantage on the glass. Reese had 22 first half points and benefitted from the offensive boards. Maryland didn’t pound the ball inside, but Reese created his own offense with six offensive rebounds and started 9/9 from the field. All six rebounds came within a few feet of the basket in which he put back up with ease.
Even through Reese’s dominance, Coppin State came prepared on the defensive side of the ball, and matched Maryland’s intensity. While each team shot around 50 percent in the first half, the Eagles never let the Terps get comfortable in their offensive sets. Following two late Hart threes, Maryland took a 47-36 lead in a competitive game going into halftime.
To open the second 20 minutes, Maryland continued their trend of full-court pressure. The Terps started the half in the press and forced the Eagles to slowly work the ball up the floor. The Eagles were able to stick around, but double digit turnovers proved costly. 15 turnovers for Coppin State led to 15 points for Maryland and gave the Terps a big enough cushion in the latter stages of the game.
The game began to get chippy with over 14 minutes remaining when Reese and a Coppin State player got tangled up going for a rebound. Players came together and were then separated after some chatter. Two assistant coaches for the Terps were ejected for stepping onto the court during the scrum, a new NCAA rule, but no free-throws were shot as a result.
There were five technical fouls in the second half, three on that play, and six in total.
Maryland’s defense didn’t play up to standard, but their offense down the stretch was overpowering and proved to be too much for the Eagles to handle.
One area that The Terps have struggled with at home is three-point shooting and it continued against the Eagles. Over the weekend in Connecticut, Maryland’s three point percentage drastically improved compared to the first three games at home. However, now back at home they couldn’t continue their success. The Terps shot 4/21, with three of those coming in the first half.
Maryland has shown that even with their poor shooting, they can find ways to make up ground. In previous games it’s been fast break points or their inside play, but tonight it was the full-court pressure.
The Terps will look to take care of business in their next matchup versus Louisville. This will be their first true road test against a struggling ACC team.
Maryland @ Louisville – 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 29.
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