Maryland basketball overcame an ugly first half to dispatch UMBC, 66-45, in College Park on Friday night.
After turning in 20 horrendous minutes of offense, the Terps turned things around after the intermission. Maryland trailed 24-18 at halftime, which is as bad as it looks, but then won the second half 48-21, taking the lead early in the period and cruising to a win that looked in doubt for a while.
The Terps announced Thursday that sophomore forward Justin Jackson was out for the season with a torn labrum, and while they had played their previous three contests without him, Friday’s early performance didn’t inspire much confidence in their future outlook. The offense looked lost, and the rebounding was less one-sided than most would like (Maryland won 45-37 on the glass). But at least against an America East team, the absence wasn’t fatal.
Kevin Huerter led the second-half outburst, scoring 16 of his 20 points after halftime. The sophomore finished 7-of-12 from the floor and 4-of-8 from three-point range. Anthony Cowan Jr. and Darryl Morsell added 14 and 13 points, respectively; Cowan chipped in nine rebounds and seven assists.
UMBC, which entered the game averaging a national-best 12.4 threes per game on 43 percent shooting, couldn’t find the range. The Retrievers went just 7-for-38 from deep and shot 29 percent overall. Jairus Lyles, who averages over 21 points per game, tallied just 14.
Both teams got off to slow starts offensively, but Maryland’s early struggles were more pronounced. The Terps hit just one of their first 11 shots and trailed 7-3 roughly seven minutes in. Then they scored on three straight possessions for to take the lead. UMBC responded with a slow and gradual 9-2 run that spanned nearly seven minutes. Both offenses kept quiet for a while after that, until a pair of UMBC triples in the final minute gave the Retrievers a 24-18 halftime lead.
The short version of all that: Maryland made 6 of 26 field goals (23 percent) and committed 10 turnovers in the first half. That’s how an 18 shows up on the scoreboard. It was a slow and steady horror scene.
By comparison, then, the second half was an action flick. Maryland needed just 1:39 to tie the score with an 8-2 run. By the 16-minute mark, the Terps already had 14 points in the period and a three-point lead. They had 18 second-half points with 13:56 remaining. With a shade under 10 minutes left, the lead was in double figures.
Maryland cruised from there, stretching the lead as high as 21. The Terps made 8 of 15 threes in the period and had just five turnovers to finish with 15. If there’s a downside, it’s that the bench never emptied completely; that likely won’t happen for a while now.
Big Ten play resumes on Tuesday, Jan. 2, when Maryland hosts Penn State. The Terps already have a 1-1 conference record from games played earlier this month, and the quest begins for another high finish in the standings.
Three things to know
1. Maryland’s offense looked asleep for a long while. Except for one jaw-dropping Kevin Huerter dunk, the Terps couldn’t get anything going. They struggled to hit jump shots, finish in the lane and control the ball. Everything changed in the second half, but Maryland was on upset alert for nearly an hour.
2. The frontcourt reserves didn’t see the playing time some expected. With Jackson out, Sean Obi and Joshua Tomaic seemed like strong candidates to see a raised role. Instead, neither saw the floor until Tomaic entered with 3:14 remaining and Maryland up 16. With Ivan Bender suffering an apparent injury of his own in this game, the plans up front going forward remain uncertain.
3. Mark Turgeon has reached the 400-win plateau. It took 20 seasons at four schools to reach this mark; that’s an average of over 20 wins a season. Turgeon also picked up his 150th win at Maryland, where he’s coached for six and a half seasons now. He’ll have 16 more chances to add to that total between now and the Big Ten tournament.