COLLEGE PARK -- Even in the immediate wake of Tuesday’s loss to North Carolina, Mark Turgeon could not feel down about his basketball team. After turning the ball over 22 times, the Terrapins were still in a position to win the game in the final minutes down the stretch.
“I was like, OK, we got a chance to be good,” Turgeon said, recalling his thought process. “I can fix the turnovers and I can fix the defense. I can’t fix it overnight, but I can fix those things.”
Against mid-major St. Francis (PA) on Friday night in College Park, the team’s first time back on the court since the loss to North Carolina, it almost did seem fixed, though.
Level of competition of course must factor in and there is still the question of sustainability, but the Terrapins turned the ball over just 10 times and held the Red Flash to less than 30 percent shooting from the floor in a dominating 96-55 victory.
“I was obviously pleased tonight,” Turgeon said after the game. “Really all we’ve talked about since Tuesday night was defending.
“That was a step in the right direction for us.”
Maryland might have found something to seize upon Friday night that helped defensively. By starting junior Damonte Dodd and shifting freshman Diamond Stone to the bench, Turgeon simultaneously improved the defense in his starting lineup while improving the scoring on his second unit.
The coach said it is unclear what the future holds on that front, but early returns are positive.
“We got to play against the best offensive team in the country [vs. UNC] and defensive-wise we could get better,” redshirt junior Robert Carter, who had a team-high 20 points to go along with six rebounds and six assists, said. “That’s where we need to grow.”
Tuesday brings a new challenge in New York City. The Connecticut Huskies await in the Jimmy V Classic, a team that ranks 26th in the nation in offensive efficiency, thanks in large part to perimeter threats like Rodney Purvis, Daniel Hamilton, and Sterling Gibbs.
For now, though, Maryland should be happy with this bounce-back win.