COLLEGE PARK -- All of the offseason excitement for the No. 3 Maryland Terrapins came to this on Friday night in College Park, a season opener in which they had to fight with a scrappy mid-major for nearly 30 minutes before eventually closing the door for good.
Aided by three-pointers and pressure defense, Mount St. Mary’s stuck with the Terrapins before the divide between high-major and mid-major showed itself in an 80-56 Maryland victory in front of a sellout crowd of 17,950 at XFINITY Center in College Park.
This was a nine-point game at the 15:59 mark of the second half and within six minutes became a 20-point game after a Melo Trimble layup.
The sophomore, Trimble, led the way on Friday with 14 points, two rebounds, and two assists. He was one of five players in double figures, along with Jake Layman, Diamond Stone, Robert Carter, Jr., and Jared Nickens.
Here are 5 things you need to know.
1) Maryland looked to take control early
It took some time for Maryland to get its feet under itself, but an 8-0 run in the middle of the first half pushed the lead to 32-14. The offense appeared to be humming with elite-level, crisp passing and inside-out looks that drove the offense.
2) 12-2 run halts the Maryland push
The offense for Mount St. Mary’s is built on forcing turnovers and hitting three-point shots. They did both in the first half to claw their way back into the game and force Maryland to respond.
Preseason All-NEC players BK Ashe and Gregory Graves led the push from the outside with 19 combined points in the first half and they played major roles in the 12-2 run that cut the Maryland lead and another pair of threes that made the lead just six with a minute to go before the half.
A concern has to be perimeter defense because against a team like The Mount, which is overall much smaller than the Terrapins, closing out on shooters forces them into the lane where your shot blockers are.
3) The second-half push
As mentioned above, Mount St. Mary’s had this game in single digits with under 16 minutes to play. That is where the Maryland muscle took over. It was inside and it was outside over the course of six minutes and the Terrapins took control for good.
4) An aggressive Layman?
With the graduation of Dez Wells, there was not only a leadership void but a scoring void as well. If Friday night’s game is any indication, Layman may be willing to fill both.
It has never been about skill for the Massachusetts native. It has been about assertiveness. Against Mount St. Mary’s, he was, taking the opportunity to shoot with confidence off of screens, then flexing down to the power forward spot and taking smaller defenders in the post.
He finished with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting to go along with five rebounds.
He punctuated the performance with an alley-oop slam off a pass from Jaylen Brantley in transition with 5:35 to play in the second half.
5) Listing some lingering questions
There are a few for Maryland after this game:
- Where does scoring come from on the second unit? A lineup of Jaylen Brantley, Rasheed Sulaimon, Jared Nickens, Damonte Dodd, and Michal Cekovsky leaves the Terrapins without a go-to scorer.
- What’s at the root of the turnover issues? Maryland hit double digits giving the ball up, which was accentuated on Friday night by the fact that The Mount did not give it up, increasing the turnover differential.