Maryland basketball beat the Saint Peter’s Peacocks, 66-56, skating by a weaker opponent by fewer points than it should have.
The Terps held the Peacocks scoreless for the opening eight minutes on Saturday, then let them back in late. A 25-point lead shrank to just 10 with a minute left. Losing the game was never feasible, but the late-game comeback was discouraging. Still it’s another win for the 10-1 Terps.
Mark Turgeon established his big man, Michal Cekovsky, early against an opponent that had no post defense. Saint Peter’s doesn’t have a player taller than 6’8, and it showed. The Slovakian barreled his much more toned upper body through the chest of opposing defenders for easy bank shots down low. On the other end his presence was felt just as strong, as he limited the Peacocks’ top scorer, Quadir Welton, to just five points on 2-of-11 shooting. He also altered shots around the rim, showing better awareness and discipline in his first upperclassman season.
Kevin Huerter looked the part of one of the nation’s most talented shooting freshman breaking out of his shooting slump, connecting on 3-of-6 shots from deep. He finished with 14 points, 12 of which came in the opening half.
Saint Peter’s was clearly outmatched in size and talent, and the Peacocks never found a rhythm, though they did out-rebound Maryland in the opening half, 18-15. With Cekovsky off the floor and Dodd out with injury, there was a clear drop-off in the remaining bigs’ ability to seal off their matchups underneath the hoop. It didn’t matter much though, as the Peacocks shot a putrid 24 percent from the field in the half and trailed, 40-18.
Maryland struggled in the second half, but the Terps’ halftime lead gave them enough of a cushion. Justin Jackson was solid finishing through contact, and his wingspan posed a problem for Saint Peter’s as well. He scored 19 points and pulled down five rebounds.
But the team shot just 28 percent from the field in the half and allowed open layups in a sloppy finish.
Cekovsky closed out the game with 8 points and two blocks as the game’s biggest difference-maker on both ends, and Cowan and Brantley chipped in on the scoring effort with eight and six respectively to seal the win.
The Terps will take on another easy opponent in Jacksonville State — a team Turgeon served as head coach of for two years — on Monday at 7 p.m.
Three things to know:
- Maryland won comfortably, which for this team has been rare. The Terps struggled with a number of weak opponents in their first few games, but the past two wins have been comfortable, though this one wasn’t as pretty. There are two more non-conference games like this left and then comes the Big Ten fun.
- Michal Cekovsky is this team’s low-post scorer. The junior center’s development has stuck out, as he’s scoring and defending better than before. Maybe we were overlooking him a bit last year behind Diamond Stone and Dodd, but it’s clear now that he’s ready to play big minutes for this team.
- Melo Trimble played 26 minutes. A poor second half cost Maryland extra minutes from its star. It’s not what you want to see in a game against Saint Peter’s, especially with another game coming in 48 hours. Turgeon didn’t rest Trimble enough last year and it showed as the season wore on, so this shouldn’t become a pattern for Maryland.