With Maryland leading 60-43, Eric Ayala was dribbling near the top of the key but needed somewhere to go with the ball. Darryl Morsell cut in from the wing and levitated over the right block to catch, turned and made good on the alley-oop pass in before falling to the ground.
Morsell played a crucial role for the Terps, along with grad transfer forward Galin Smith, in the team’s 82-52 win over Navy Friday afternoon. The duo combined for 27 points and six rebounds and were perfect from the floor, with neither missing a single shot as they consistently exploited the Midshipmen defense on the interior time and time again on Friday afternoon.
Maryland also got another strong performance out of its junior point guard Eric Ayala, who contributed 15 points, six assists and three rebounds, while fellow junior guard Aaron Wiggins dropped 14 points and a career-high six assists.
“[There’s] definitely a lot of stuff we got to work on. But I think we showed flashes of what we’re capable of and stuff,” Morsell said. “So we’re all confident, but we’ve definitely got to improve on the little things.”
Darryl Morsell got off to a hot start as he stepped up as the team’s go-to man on the offensive end. He scored seven of the team’s 11 points, and by the time he first exited the game, he had nine points on 3-for-3 shooting from the floor.
With Navy up by one point less than three minutes into the contest, Morsell took a pass from Aaron Wiggins at the top of the arc and put up a shot without hesitation, scoring three points to give Maryland a 7-5 lead.
“His leadership and his experience, you know, he’s able to just make plays,” Wiggins said, adding that he told Morsell to stay aggressive. “And whether that’s scoring, making the right passes, whether that’s rebounding, I mean, he’s a guy who can really do it all on the court.”
The Terps weren’t able to create separation until a 10-0 run, however, which Smith and Morsell both played a huge role in.
With Maryland up by two points a little over midway through the first half, Morsell stormed down the court after Navy turned over the ball and quickly got to work. He dribbled into the top of the key and hit a pull-up shot from around the free-throw line.
Morsell then assisted on the following play, connecting with Smith, who made a hookshot jumper in the paint. And Smith scored on the next possession as well, this time nailing a turnaround jumper on an assist from Ayala to give Maryland a 28-20 lead. The Terps extended the run to make it a 30-20 game close to the end of the first half.
Morsell, who scored 12 points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds in the team’s season opener against Old Dominion, already had a team-high 11 points and five rebounds as the Terps entered halftime.
“I was bragging about him. He’s gotten so much better offensively,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “I mean, you think about where he was when he got here and where he is with his shot now, it’s pretty amazing. And I think it’s going in every time, and it did today, obviously.”
In his first game in a Maryland uniform against Old Dominion Wednesday, Smith tallied six points and four rebounds. The 6’9 power forward surpassed that scoring output early against the Midshipmen; he didn’t miss a single shot in the first half to head into the break with eight points, along with a block.
Smith picked up right where he left off in the second half as the Terps continued to create separation.
In the first minute of the half, Wiggins drove into the paint, drawing in multiple Navy defenders to leave Smith wide open. The junior passed the ball to the forward, who rose up for a slam dunk.
A few minutes later, Morsell took the ball in the paint and passed down low to Smith, who spun for a reverse layup to extend the Maryland lead to 14 points.
“It’s great playing with a big man and a big man that loves talking, a big man that plays hard,” Morsell said. “So I enjoy enjoy feeding [Galin], getting him some easy buckets.”
The Terps never forfeited the lead from there on out, keying in defensively, as the duo combined for eight second half points. While the duo’s scoring slowed, several other players stepped up with strong second half performances, with Hakim Hart and Aaron Wiggins also finishing in double digits.
Three things to know
1. Aaron Wiggins got off to a slow start before finding his groove. The junior, who is expected to be a huge contributor for the Terps this season just couldn’t find the back of the basket in the first half.
He scored his first points of the game on a triple with a little over 11 minutes left in the contest and found his rhythm from there on out, including a personal 8-0 run. He ended the game with 14 points, including a 3-for-4 mark from three-point range, and six assists.
“In the first half, I took two shots in the first half, and neither of them fell,” Wiggins said. “I was just trying to find other ways to make sure that I was contributing to the game, whether that was passing the ball, just trying to find my teammates, make the right plays, be a leader on the court and make sure our guys are in the right spot.”
2. Maryland continued to shoot with efficiency. After knocking down 47.6 percent of their shots against Old Dominion, the Terps took down Navy thanks to a 68.2 percent effort from the floor. The field goal percentage was Maryland’s best since Jan. 28. 1986.
3. The Terps had a big advantage on the glass. Maryland had just a +3 differential against Old Dominion Wednesday, but out-rebounded Navy 33-18. The effort on the boards was also spread out, with Morsell, Donta Scott and Jairus Hamilton each pulling in five boards.