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Maryland basketball cruises past Maryland-Eastern Shore, 96-43, in home opener

The Terps had no problems with their in-state foes.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Tournament-Northwestern vs Maryland Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland basketball won its 2017-18 home opener with ease Sunday evening, dispatching Maryland-Eastern Shore in a 96-43 victory.

The Terps are 2-0 this season, and while they looked rusty at times in Friday’s opening-night meeting with Stony Brook, there were no such signs in this one. Maryland decimated UMES in pretty much every way, a positive departure from the stressful home openers of recent years.

Anthony Cowan led the way with 16 points and nine rebounds. The sophomore point guard went 5-of-7 from the field and 6-of-6 from the foul line. He had 12 points and eight boards in the first half; the Hawks had 18 and 10 as a team. Cowan has now led Maryland in scoring in each of the first two contests.

Dion Wiley came off the bench to add 13 points, while Jared Nickens’ hot second half from beyond the arc led to a 15-point outburst. Darryl Morsell (12) and Kevin Huerter (10) also scored in double figures.

The Terps shot 61.1 percent from the floor, a number that was even higher before the bench mob hit the floor for the first time this season. Maryland had a 46-21 rebounding edge, and had more offensive boards (16) than the Hawks had on defense (13).

Maryland’s offense struggled to get going early, but shifted to a smaller lineup around three minutes in. Wiley came in and immediately drained a pair of threes, putting the Terps up 6-2 and igniting what would stretch to a 12-0 run. This stretch gave Maryland a double-digit lead that it wouldn’t relinquish.

The Terps added another big run later in the half, scoring 15 unanswered points to push the lead to 26. They finished the first half shooting 70 percent from the field (14-of-20), and needed just 15 minutes to surpass their three-point total from Friday night. Maryland entered the locker room with a 44-18 lead.

Maryland kept its foot on the gas in the second half, stretching its lead to 79-29 at one point. Nickens took four shots in the half; all of them were threes and all of them went in, resulting in 12 points. Sean Obi, who didn’t see the floor in the first period, made the most of his eight minutes, tallying five offensive rebounds and six boards overall.

When the walk-on lineup (featuring Joshua Tomaic) entered the game with 3:43 remaining, the Terps were up 88-37. The unit outscored the Hawks, 8-6, in its time on the floor.

The Terps are back at the Xfinity Center on Wednesday for a Gavitt Games matchup with Butler.

Three things to know

1. Small-ball is here. Maryland didn’t find its offensive flow until shifting to a lineup with Justin Jackson and Ivan Bender as its “big men,” and the Terps even played Jackson at center in short spurts. It worked. It definitely worked.

2. Free throws were the weak link. Maryland went 21-of-33 at the charity stripe for a 63.6 percent clip. The biggest culprits there were Michal Cekovsky (2-for-6) and Ivan Bender (0-for-2), but the 12 missed free throws is still a pretty big number.

3. Three-pointers weren’t. After going 2-of-14 from beyond the arc against Stony Brook, the Terps drained nine of 19 attempts on Sunday, including six of their first 11. Nickens, who was hardly a presence in any form on Friday, knocked down all four of his triples.