The No. 3 men's basketball got a serious scare from Rider on Friday night, but the Terps recovered just in time to hold off the Broncs, 65-58, before an announced sellout crowd of 17,950 at Xfinity Center.
The Terps never led until the second half, and they trailed by 14 points with just more than 16 minutes to play. Then they got to work, with freshman center Diamond Stone leading an interior assault on Rider's undersized defense. Stone scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half to drag Maryland back from the abyss. Maryland had 8 offensive rebounds and 16 second-chance points in the second half, taking advantage of its length against the smallish Broncs.
A Rasheed Sulaimon driving floater gave Maryland its first lead of the game with 5:19 to play. Rider brought the game back level with two Teddy Okereafor foul shots after that, but a Melo Trimble 3-pointer at the 3:26 mark gave Maryland a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
Rider was within a single point with a minute left, but a confluence of free throws and offensive rebounding put the game on ice for the Terps. Jake Layman sealed the game with two pairs of free throws in the last seconds.
Transfers Robert Carter Jr. and Sulaimon paved the way for the Terps early on, scoring 19 of 29 first-half points. The rest of Maryland's offense never fully woke up, but the Terps got some timely baskets from Stone, Melo Trimble and Jared Nickens as they made their comeback against a resilient opponent.
Their victory leaves the Terps at 3-0 heading into next week's Cancun Challenge in Mexico. They'll face Illinois State on Tuesday and, if they win, draw the winner of a Rhode Island-TCU game on Wednesday.
Three things to know
1. Maryland started slow, again. Against Georgetown on Tuesday, the Terps were down 9-0 after 2:10. Against Rider, they gave up the game's first 4 points and fell behind 11-5, then 27-18 later in the first half, then by 14 early in the second half. Maryland is much better than Rider and almost every team it will play on the non-conference schedule, but it can nary afford to keep digging itself a ditch and rely on a Houdini escape to climb out. It won't always work out like this.
2. Rasheed Sulaimon kept on doing a bit of everything. Sulaimon finished with 11 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist, following up his 10-7-2 night against Georgetown and his 5-5-4 job against Mount St. Mary's. He's continually chipping in all over the stat sheet, and he's carved out an early reputation as the guy who gives Maryland the shot when it needs it. It's hard for Maryland to ask for much more from him - except, ideally, hitting a couple of late free throws before Layman swooped in for a possibly game-saving offensive rebound.
3. Maryland's got a lot of time. Last season, Michigan State lost at home to Texas Southern and played in the Final Four. Losing here would've been pretty comparable, as Ken Pomeroy rates Rider the No. 175 team in the country now and had Texas Southern No. 202 back then. This is a roundabout way of saying Maryland can come a long way from right now until March, and - as of now - it'll even get to do it without a major resume blemish.