COLLEGE PARK -- What transpired on Maryland’s first possession of Friday night’s game against St. Francis (PA) was not a coincidence.
Junior Damonte Dodd set a screen that brought senior Jake Layman down toward the basket, then he re-screened Layman’s defender to get him open near the right elbow to receive a pass from guard Rasheed Sulaimon. With the defense scrambling, Layman read the situation and took it to the basket for an easy two-point layup.
Those were his first two points of 16 total on a night that included 5-of-7 shooting from the floor in Maryland’s dominating 96-55 in College Park.
“I told the team in shootaround that we need to get Jake going, so we ran a play for him to start,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “I love that he took a layup instead of a jump shot.
“I thought our guys are mature enough and understand how important Jake is to us to get him going early and they found him, made extra passes to him. All that was big.”
That layup set the stage for the rest of Layman’s evening. Coming off of the North Carolina loss in which he was just 1-of-5 from the floor and had a few shots that were badly off target, he shot with confidence from three and was 4-of-6 from deep for the game.
He was a big reason why Maryland was able to pounce on St. Francis early and get out to a 9-0 lead, something they have rarely done against smaller mid-major programs up to this point in the season.
“I look at myself as an important piece of this team, not just scoring-wise but defensively, too,” Layman said. “It was good to see Coach kind of have confidence in me to kind of run that first play.
“After a slump to kind of see the ball go through the net is always good.”
The critique of Layman has never come after his performances in less-prominent non-conference games, though. It has been about how he has played in marquee games, especially on the road like against North Carolina.
He will have another opportunity to let this momentum carry over when the Terrapins face Connecticut on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City.