In what was a blowout game from the beginning, the No. 2 Maryland Terrapins defeated the Rhode Island Rams 86-63 in the championship game of the Cancun Challenge.
Maryland's backcourt duo of Rasheed Sulaimon and Melo Trimble caught absolute fire from the beginning and it never stopped, as they missed just one shot combined. Trimble shot a perfect 7-for-7 to finish with 17 points, and Sulaimon matched his total, going 6 for 7 from the field and 4 of 5 from three.
A fix of its early season problems helped Maryland close out the game with ease.
Diamond Stone stayed out of foul trouble in the early minutes, and the Terps shot well to start the game as Maryland broke open a 15-5 lead early against the Rams.
The lead took a more drastic turn as Terrapins shot 62.1 percent from the field on 17-28 shooting in the half, and proved lethal outside the arc hitting 5 of 9 attempts. The quick start was unprecedented as the team shot a combined 5 for 24 in the first half of games against Georgetown and Illinois State. Improved shot selection aided the Terps' crippling shooting numbers from previous games, led by Sulaimon's ability to hit both of his attempts from deep in rhythm.
The Terps held their opponent to 32.1 percent shooting in the first half, closing out well on the perimeter and forced 9 turnovers to keep a 42-28 lead in the first 20 minutes.
Robert Carter was dominant in the early going, scoring 13 points and grabbing 7 rebounds to go along with 2 blocks and a steal, all in 13 minutes. Melo Trimble added an impressive line of 12 points in the half on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting, 3 assists and 3 steals, as the Terps showed for the first time why they are truly deserving of their No. 2 ranking.
The second half wasn't much different as Maryland continued to shoot the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya's really bright lights out, continuing to build on its lead. They led by as many as 29, as rapid ball movement, and impressive defense – with a few lapses – transformed the public's view of just how high Maryland's ceiling may be.
Five Terps finished in double figures as Trimble and Sulaimon scored 17 each, Carter dropped 15 and Stone and Nickens finished with 10. Not a single Maryland player attempted more than 10 field goal attempts, as the team spread the ball as best as they have all season. 15 of Maryland's 30 made field goals came off assists.
Coach Mark Turgeon depleted his bench for the first time in the regular season as seniors Varun Ram and Trevor Anzmann, and freshmen Kent Auslander and Andrew Terrell closed out the game comfortably. Terrell scored his first collegiate bucket on a 3-point attempt as the shot clock expired.
Maryland will take a quick Thanksgiving break before heading back to College Park Nov. 28 to host Cleveland State.
Three things to know:
1. Terps shot well early for the first time this season. The Terps led 15-5 in the first 4 minutes and 34 seconds of the game as Maryland shot 3 of 4 from 3-point land. Robert Carter hit his first shot from deep in a Terps uniform and Rasheed Sulaimon hit a pair.
2. The hot shooting wasn't momentary. Maryland shot 73.9 percent true shooting in the first half, making 17 of 28 field goal attempts. They went 5 for 9 from 3-point range with contributions from Jake Layman, Melo Trimble, Sulaimon and Carter. The Terps had the right combination of open 3-point shots and layups off turnovers to shoot to their highest efficiency in a half all season.
3. Maryland has one of the best backcourt pairings in the nation. Trimble and Sulaimon shot a combined 13 for 14 from the field, scoring 17 points apiece in total dominance. Trimble shot perfectly on seven shots and added 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals, turning the ball over just twice. Sulaimon contributed 4 assists and 2 rebounds. Maryland will be tough to contain with its backcourt playing so well.