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Terps Struggle Before Downing Marist, 68-43

After struggling in the first half, Maryland blew out Marist in the opening game of the Paradise Jam.

Maddie Meyer

Maryland tipped off their play in the Paradise Jam on Friday by defeating Marist, 68-43 behind another strong performance by sophomore Jake Layman, who finished with 16 points, including 4/6 from beyond the arc. After struggling mightily on the defensive side of the ball against Oregon State on Sunday, the Terps looked like a different team on defense, but instead struggled on the offensive end, mostly during the first half.

Freshman Roddy Peters got his second start, with junior transfer Evan Smotrycz going to the bench for Mark Turgeon's team. Peters joined Dez Wells, Shaq Cleare, Jake Layman and Nick Faust to round out the starting five for Maryland.

The Terps struggled early in what was a tightly called game by the officials. Dez Wells, who led Maryland in scoring last season, quickly picked up two fouls which limited him to just eight minutes in the first half. Smotrycz, coming of the bench for the first time this season, also picked up two quick fouls and was on the court for just six minutes in the first half.

Roddy Peters struggled to get the offense in sync and played a lot of the half at the two guard spot, with transfer Varun Ram playing 13 minutes in the half with Wells in foul trouble. Peters, who finished with nine points and two assists, had numerous shots blocked while attempting to scoop the ball up to the backboard for a layup, but was eventually able to start scoring more easily.

Both team struggled offensively, scoring just a combined seven points in the first six and a half minutes of the game. It appeared that Marist took some notes from Oregon State, utilizing a 2-3 zone that brought the Terps' offense to a halt. But sophomore Jake Layman did what he's already done several times this season, sparking a big 7-0 run for Maryland after an alley-op and three pointer.

Marist appeared to have a game plan to attack Maryland at the rim and try to get their star players in foul trouble, which proved to be successful in the early going. But the Terps responded by pounding the ball inside to draw contact and take advantage of how the game was being officiated. It also allowed the Maryland offense to utilize an inside-out approach and freed up some of their parameter shooters, who struggled early, but eventually started to get the ball to fall.

But Marist wouldn't go away, taking advantage of Maryland turnovers and their inability to knock down baskets. The Terps shot just 33% in the first half while committing eight turnovers and entered halftime with just a six point lead, 26-20.

Maryland looked much better and more comfortable to start the second half, starting on a 10-0 that essentially put the game away out of reach for Marist. Having Dez Wells out on the court really seemed to open everything up on offense, as the junior scored five quick points, finishing the game with nine. Sophomore Charles Mitchell, who played much better on defense, was again an offensive and rebounding spark off the bench, finishing the game with 12 points and eight boards. Mitchell's struggles at the free throw line continued on Friday, as he hit just two of nine attempts from the charity stripe.

The Terps did a great job all around in the second half, looking like a much different team, especially on the offensive end. Overall, offensive rebounding, forcing turnovers, finishing on fast breaks and securing defensive rebounds allowed Maryland to coast for the last ten minutes of the game. They were also much improved in getting shots to fall, shooting a much-improved 53.6% during the game's final twenty minutes and outscoring the Red Foxes 42-23.

Sophomore Shaq Cleare, who has struggled on offense in this young season, had by far his best game of the season, finishing with eight points and five rebounds on 4/4 shooting. More importantly, he seemed much more comfortable on the offensive end, establishing position in the paint, attacking the basket and doing a great job securing some key rebounds.

Junior Nick Faust struggled on the offensive end, making just two of the eight shots he attempted, but still grabbed six rebounds and showed some great moves slashing to the basket in his 25 minutes of play.

Evan Smotrycz, who has been a rather consistent scorer for Maryland this season, had a mostly quiet game, partially attributed to being in foul trouble throughout the game. He finished the game with just four points and one rebound.

Maryland was able to empty their bench during the game's final minutes, allowing Mark Turgeon to give some of his starters a rest before their next game on Sunday against Northern Iowa, who defeated Loyola Marymount in the early game on Friday. The Terps will take on Northern Iowa at 7:00 PM Sunday evening.

Marist junior guard/forward Chavaughn Lewis finished with a team high 13 points for the Red Foxes, who remain winless on the season.