Maryland was expected to dominate Marshall in the paint on Sunday afternoon at the Xfinity Center. The Terps did, but it took a lot more effort than most fans probably expected. "Marshall was a tough team for us to match up with," said Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon at his post-game press conference.
Center Diamond Stone and forward Robert Carter Jr. had good looks inside for most of the game. The pair combined to torch the Thundering Herd for 37 points and 15 rebounds. Carter hit a pair of threes in the first half and had game-high 15 points at halftime. He had 19 points as he watched the walk-ons take the court at the end of Maryland's 87-67 victory.
Stone came off the bench to hit 4 of 6 shots in the first half. He opened the second half with a big dunk and scored four of Maryland's first seven baskets, finishing with 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Turgeon was impressed with his star freshman.
"He makes it look so easy, how easy he scores around the basket," the coach said.
"We knew we were bigger than them," Stone said after the game. "We were stronger than them...Me and Rob took care of business. We scored in a variety of ways and we rebounded well."
Maryland shot a blistering 53 percent from the field in the first half, indicative of a team getting high-percentage looks around the basket and converting. The Terrapins shot a red-hot 52 percent in the game. This team is incredibly tough to beat when they are knocking down shots at that clip.
While the eye test clearly seemed to indicate that Maryland won the battle inside, not all of the statistics emphatically back that up. Marshall won the offensive-rebounding battle 15 to 10, and countered Maryland's 32 points in the paint with 30 of its own. Many of those points were scored once the outcome was no longer in doubt, but Marshall was very physical, and didn't give an inch near the basket. The Terrapins were strong on the boards but didn't dominate. They came up with 44 rebounds while Marshall picked up 37.
Maryland came in only having played two games in the previous two weeks.
"We took five days off and we needed it," Turgeon said. "It's a long season...We were a little rusty."
That rust showed, as the Terps turned the ball over 19 times while still managing to win by 20 points.
At this point in the season, the team is still developing. If Maryland wants to win the Big Ten, much less the NCAA Championship, it will have to rebound and protect the paint better. The Terps only get two days to prepare for their first conference game of the season.
School might be out for Maryland students, but the men's basketball still has some projects to work on and develop. As great a player as Melo Trimble is, he'll need to continue to get help from Stone and Carter for Maryland to be a true contender. Turgeon said this team will improve, but don't expect a quick fix.
"We'll be a work in progress the whole year."