It was neither pretty nor enjoyable for the vast majority of the time, but the Maryland Terrapins came away from their first home game of the season winners as they beat Abilene Christian 67-44. After scoring only 29 points in the first half and trailing Abilene by ten at times, Maryland went on a 29-0 run to finish the game with a monstrous effort defensively.
Most of their offensive energy came from the bench, though, in the form of Jake Layman and Charles Mitchell. Layman scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half and Mitchell had a very energetic 15 points and 11 rebounds, to help carry the Terps to their first winning tally of the year. After a quiet 12 minutes in the first half in which Layman often found himself on the bench, the sophomore forward continued his trend of great play during at least one half each game. His outside shooting was huge for a Maryland team that was 1-of-9 in the first half from deep.
Meanwhile, Charles Mitchell did most of the dirty work down low, leading the Terps with 8 points in the first half, then adding on another 7 in the second. Mitchell’s 11 rebounds led all players.
Part of that first half dearth of offense was due in large part to the benching of Dez Wells. After a lukewarm exchange with coach Turgeon on the sidelines following a timeout, Wells found himself on the bench for all but five minutes of the first half. He finally re-entered the game with about 18 minutes remaining in the second half and helped find Layman on a couple open three pointers.
Abilene made things tough by draining 10-of-21 three pointers, six of which came in the first half. Maryland struggled guarding the perimeter, and Abilene had three starters finish in double figures. Austin Cooke, Harrison Parker, and Pete Wentz had all ten three pointers for Abilene, which couldn’t do a ton on the interior.
The 29-0 run Maryland had to end the game hadn’t been done since 1993.
Next up, the Terrapins take on Oregon State at Comcast on November 17th at 6 pm.
A few quick thoughts on the Terrapins after the win:
- Call it the Dez Wells effect or not, it’s pretty clear who the emotional leader of this team is. Without Wells in the game, the Terrapins struggled mightily to score points against a supremely inferior Abilene Christian team. They played great, and hit a lot of clutch shots, but without Wells Maryland seemed to lack much definition. The second he entered the game a couple minutes into the second half, he proceeded by hitting a jumper, grabbing a few rebounds, hitting Layman for a wide open three pointer, and made a monstrous block that got the crowd involved. The fact that he doesn’t have to score to have such an impact on the game proves why he’s the team’s leader.
- After the game, Coach Turgeon pretty much confirmed that Charles Mitchell would be the starter from here on out. While he apparently had not been incredibly good at practice, his drive kept Maryland’s head above water in that woeful first half and likely won him the gig. Mitchell’s a phenomenal rebounder, but it’s even nicer to see him finish even better at the rim. There were times last year when he struggled with that, but this year his quickness is being displayed early, and he looks like he could be a menace in the paint for teams with his soft finishes.
- Roddy Peters didn’t play too badly, and the offense certainly functioned alright while he was on the court, but don’t expect him to be the starter next game. Peters was injected into the lineup when Jake Layman hurt his thigh on a Jonathan Graham screen. That he didn’t practice all week pretty much had him fresh for the second half when everyone else was quieter. Turgeon did say that Layman would start once again after the game, though, so the bench points won’t be as plentiful against Oregon State.
- Speaking of Oregon State, the Beavers head to Maryland playing some pretty uninspiring basketball. After a 78-73 loss to Coppin State to start the season off, the Beavers went blow for blow with…Portland? Maryland still can’t get off to a slow start again, but it doesn’t look like Oregon State is going to offer a tougher challenge like many had hoped.
- Finally, no one is talking about Nick Faust, but make no mistake he is definitely playing smarter basketball. Even though he finished with 11 points, I saw him pass up open looks three times. He played a compact style against Abilene and set up teammates. His lack of recklessness with his shot selection helped the team a lot, as he routinely gave up looks to make the extra pass. Unfortunately, they weren’t going in for Maryland, but if you look back at the tape you’ll see a Faust who played team basketball. That’s exactly what Maryland needs out of him, and what I expect to see more of moving forward.