Most anticipated that Stony Brook would probably pose the biggest challenge for Maryland in the remaining portion of their conference schedule. But most probably didn't anticipate the Terps jumping out to an early lead and being up by 20 just a few minutes into the second half. Conversely, most didn't expect Stony Brook to pull within three, on multiple occasions, as the end of the game approached.
"Really pleased with the win. We beat a really good team. I think you guys can tsee that now, you know that I'm not full of it when I'm saying it's a good team that we're going to play" head coach Mark Turgeon said. "For us to be up 20 on that team shows you we did a lot of things right to get there. Then I think the game got physical and we didn't handle it well. Give them credit, they never quit."
Maryland played some of their best offensive basketball to start the game, jumping out to an early 12 point lead with just under 13 minutes remaining in the first half. They were led by two sophomores, Alex Len and Dez Wells, who combined to score 14 of the Terps' first 22 points. Len and Wells each finished with a game-high 19 points. Len also grabbed nine boards and Wells pulled down six.
When asked about their fast start, sophomore point guard Pe'Shon Howard mentioned the emphasis that coach Turgeon has placed on starting off practices well as of late.
"A big emphasis by coach was just starting practices off better" Howard said. "We've been starting really sluggish, just being young, and now we're being intentitive and having fun in practice so I think in the last week or so we've been really good at starting off really well in practice and I think it carried over into the game today."
Howard finished with seven assists and just two turnovers, while also scoring eight points.
While the game ended up being closer than Maryland would have liked in the end, head coach Mark Turgeon was trying to focus on the positives from his team.
"We did a lot of nice things. We shared the ball, adjusted to some of the things they were doing."
But Turgeon also acknowledged that Maryland struggled with their interior defense and inability to match Stony Brook's physicality inside.
"Our post defense just wasn't any good and to be honest with you. We didn't talk about post defense a lot. We felt like they would struggle scoring over us down there and they were just getting it way too deep. That's what we really need to work on. I'll take a lot of positives out of this game."
Turgeon also acknowledged that playing a tight game that the Terps needed to close out was good, especially as they head into conference play.
"I think we needed a close game to see how we handled it. We missed some free throws, but we made some free throws. There are some things that I need to work on with a lead to make us better."
"It's always good to be challenged" sophomore Dez Wells said. "Stony Brook was probably one of the best teams we've played this year. You're not always going to put the ball in the basket. That's not how basketball is. Nobody is like that. Kobe isn't like that, Michael Jordan wasn't like that. Luckly for them they were on teams and I'm on a team where we know that defense and rebounding can win games. We did a really good job defending and rebounding down the stretch, so that's how we won the game tonight."
"They played tough in the first half and we kind of expected it. In the 2nd half they just came out and turned up their aggression and we kind of backed off" Pe'Shon Howard said. "They did a great job of being tougher than us. You have to give them credit for that."
In the end, it was another win for Maryland as the Terps improved to 10-1 on the season with their 10th straight win. Closing out a tight game against a quality opponent a few weeks before conference play begins.
"We've got to get more physical and tougher before ACC [play] starts" sophomore center Alex Len said. "We've got to prepare for that."
Knowing Mark Turgeon, they'll be ready to roll.