As Michigan looked to shut the door on Maryland midway through the second half freshman Hunter Dickinson grabbed the rebound from his teammate's missed shot with Jairus Hamilton on his back and Eric Ayala swiping at him from the baseline.
Dickinson went right back up, drawing a foul from Ayala and laying the ball in. The Alexandria, Virginia native screamed and headed out of bounds towards the stands as the DeMatha product relished playing the hometown Terps, who he claimed didn’t recruit him.
Dickinson scored 26 points and grabbed 11 boards as Michigan exploded in the second half to defeat Maryland, 84-73. The freshman simply couldn’t miss, shooting 10-for-11 from the field and 6-for-7 from the free-throw line.
“[Dickinson] was big, physically and just his impact on the game,” Ayala said. “I thought we played to the scouting report that the coaches gave us. Hunter beat us as a team. We’ve got to be better helping each other out on the interior and those big guys.”
Michigan came into the game shooting over 50% from the floor and started off no different in College Park.
In the first seven minutes of action, the Wolverines climbed out to a 16-7 lead, with Eric Ayala being the only Terrapin to get on the score sheet. In all, Michigan made six of its first 10 shots on the evening, while Ayala was responsible for the first three Maryland buckets.
Donta Scott sank a wide-open three from the right wing out of the first media timeout to become the first teammate of Ayala’s to score a bucket. The Wolverines answered with a field goal on the other end, but Scott came back with a fake handoff and three from the left wing, making it a 19-13 ball game.
Maryland got hot from deep from there as it extended its run of long-range success, making four of five consecutive three-point tries.
Things got tense in the second part of the first half, as Dickinson backed Aaron Wiggins down under the basket and laid it in. Head coach Juwan Howard was near half-court talking at the Maryland bench, and the jawing back and forth resulted in technicals for both benches.
As the game remained a tight affair, tensions continued to rise. Mark Turgeon was called for a technical foul after a loose-ball foul was called on Hakim Hart after a missed layup. Dickinson would also be issued a technical foul after repeatedly looking and talking towards the Maryland bench after scoring.
“It was just one of those nights where it got emotional,” Turgeon said. “When there’s no fans, everything’s heard. Maybe if there’s fans in the building some of this would’ve went by, but it was an emotional game.”
Michigan carried a 46-44 lead into the locker room at halftime as the Wolverines and Terrapins shot 58.3% and 51.6%, respectively. Maryland had the edge with seven more shot attempts, including a lights-out 9-of-11 showing from three-point range.
Out of the break, a blocked shot against Dickinson and another Wolverine turnover gave Maryand chances to capitalize. Aaron Wiggins got the ball in the offensive end after a few switches and realized he had a mismatch with Dickinson on him. He faked a drive and calmly stepped back as Dickinson watched the rim and sank a three-pointer to give the Terps their first lead of the game at 47-46.
The Wolverines worked a 10-0 run to combat Maryland taking a 54-50 lead that ended with a backdoor cut and slam by Eli Brooks. As the bench was jumping and hollering in celebration, Jairus Hamilton was calm and collected as he sank a quick mid-range jumper to put the Terps back on the board and get the deficit back to four points.
Michigan answered the Terps’ response with a 13-0 run in which Dickinson scored six points, including the emphatic and-one chance and a slam.
“We doubled [Dickinson] a little bit, but he’s a terrific passer,” Turgeon said. “A couple times, he scored against the double team with two guys in there guarding him. We were switching ball screens in the small lineup and he got an offensive rebound over a guard. He was terrific.”
Out of the under-eight media timeout, Dickinson hit two free throws and a layup as part of a short 6-0 Michigan run that combined for a 19-2 stretch, putting the game out of reach, 79-61, with 5:20 remaining.
Three things to know
1. Maryland couldn’t sustain its success from deep. After a slow start in the opening minutes in Thursday’s contest, the Terps eventually began to heat up from couldn’t miss from beyond the arc in the first half. Maryland converted on nine of its first eleven three-point attempts, with Scott going a perfect 4-of-4 from deep in the first 20 minutes of action. However, as Michigan’s defense improved the shooting disappeared, as the Terps shot 4-of-11 from three in the second half and 13-22 in the game.
2. The Terps struggled defending the interior. After an inspired defensive performance against an offensively-loaded Wisconsin squad three days ago, the Terps were beat time and time again off the dribble against the Wolverines and allowed easy buckets at the rim. Michigan managed to get into the paint seemingly at ease at times, allowing for Dickinson to put up a career performance and the team to tally 42 points in the paint.
“It wasn’t as challenging as we made out but we lacked in some parts where we had to pick up,” Scott said. “[Dickinson] made some tough ones and got some rebounds that we should’ve got but we just gotta move onto to the next one.”
3. Free throws remain an issue. Maryland has consistently come up short at the charity stripe this season, and finally were taken advantage of by a good free throw shooting team. Coming in shooting 69.6 percent from the line this season, Maryland finished right around its average on Thursday night, converting on just four of its six attempts. Conversely, Michigan was at the free throw line all game long, going a near-perfect 18-of-20.
“We made them against Wisconsin in crunch time,” Turgeon said. “Tonight, we only shot six. It’s hard when you only shoot six and they shoot 16 and one half. We got to figure out how to get there more.”