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Three takeaways from No. 21 Maryland men’s basketball tight win over George Washington

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The Terps defeated George Washington, 71-64

NCAA Basketball: George Washington at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

No. 21 Maryland men’s basketball returned to the Xfinity Center for its second consecutive home game to start the season. This time, the Terps took on George Washington, former Maryland men’s basketball player Ricky Lindo Jr.’s team.

The Terps had difficulties establishing a commanding lead early in the game but ultimately were able to string together the pieces to emerge victorious against a George Washington team that was looking to pull off the upset.

“First of all, I think you’ve got to give GW a ton of credit, they were terrific,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “And I tried to explain to our guys that everybody on their team thinks they should be wearing a Maryland uniform and they competed, they played their tails off.”

Let’s take a look at some takeaways from Maryland’s second win of the season.

Maryland struggled to pull away

With five minutes remaining in the first half, Maryland was down by three points. At that point, the Terps were shooting 28% from the field as they were 7-for-25 including 0-for-8 from deep. George Washington, on the other hand, was 10-for-25 from deep and 1-for-5 from the three-point line. Maryland turned the ball over five times in the first 15 minutes in which George Washington scored four points off of while the Terps forced just three turnovers.

“We weren’t really prepared for it at first, how aggressive they were, like how they came up with so much intensity,” guard Fatts Russell said. “In the second half we matched their intensity.”

Maryland hit zero of its attempted field goals in a two-and-a-half-minute span while George Washington extended its lead to four forcing head coach Mark Turgeon to call a timeout.

However, Russell snapped Maryland’s scoring drought and sparked some momentum for the Terps. After a three from Lindo further extended George Washington’s lead, Ayala had back-to-back baskets to bring Maryland within one. However, George Washington kept pushing as the Terps went into the locker room down by one at the half thanks to center Qudus Wahab’s showstopping dunk in the final moments of the half.

“I think it really gave us more energy to come on in second half,” Wahab said.

Maryland took the lead 30 seconds into the second half and continued to build on it throughout the frame however, it allowed George Washington to get close.

With two minutes remaining, George Washington closed Maryland’s lead to two. Russell’s game securing three in the final seconds helped ensure the Terps would move to 2-0 on the season however, George Washington put up a fight.

“Fatts, he’s a pretty good player and he can make plays like that every time,” guard Hakim Hart said.

Qudus Wahab is in College Park to make an impact

Wahab had 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting and nine boards by halftime after playing just 12 minutes. The final play of the first frame was a huge dunk from the center thanks to a good look from Ian Martinez to bring the Terps within one point of George Washington.

Early in the second half, Wahab achieved his first double-double as a Terp and continued to dominate finishing the night with 18 points and 15 rebounds in 27 minutes of play.

“He has a great rebounder presence... he’s great for us cause we needed that last year,” Hart said.

In the first game, Wahab had 17 points, six rebounds, two assists and two blocks. The center’s 17 points came off shooting 70% from the field and 75% from the charity stripe.

With his impactful performances against Quinnipiac and George Washington, the transfer from Georgetown became the first player to have back-to-back debut performances with Maryland scoring 15 plus points since Steve Francis did so in 1998.

“He really changed the game with his offensive rebound to start the second half... there’s some things we’re still working on with him, but, you know, it’s good to score baskets around the rim, he’s really good at it,” Turgeon said.

Wahab is currently averaging 20.5 minutes per game, 17.5 points on 70% shooting from the field and 10.5 rebounds. He has also dished out three assists, stolen the ball once and recorded four blocks.

Last season as a Hoya, Wahab had eight double-doubles and based on his performance through the first two games, it seems he may be on track to record more this season.

Maryland has struggled from deep in its first two games

After a performance against Quinnipiac in which the Terps hit just six of their 17 attempted shots from behind the arc, they did not bounce back in this one.

The Terps did not break through from deep until Scott hit one with 15 minutes remaining. Maryland continued to find itself unsuccessful from behind the arc shooting just 1-for-16 from that spot until three minutes later, Martinez hit his first of the day.

“I believe we’re just gonna continue to shoot and continue to make more shots in any way,” Hart said.

Maryland finished the game 3-for-20 from behind the arc. In addition to Scott and Martinez, Russell was the only other player to find success from deep. Despite racking up 11 points, senior guard Eric Ayala struggled significantly from behind the arc hitting none of his team-high six attempts.

If Maryland hopes to succeed later down the line, it’ll have to make some adjustments to clean up its shooting from deep.

“[We need to] move the ball better because we didn’t really shoot the ball well today,” Wahab said. “So I feel like [working on communication on defense and shooting] will really help us.”