Nov 27, 2012; Evanston, IL, USA; Maryland Terrapins center Shaquille Cleare (44) is defended by Northwestern Wildcats guard Tre Demps (14) during the first half at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
If the Terrapins did one thing during their 100-68 over the Maryland – Eastern Shore Hawks, it was display the versatility of their offense. In a game in which Alex Len, Nick Faust, and Pe’Shon Howard didn’t even start, the supposed “bench” had no problem at all picking up the slack. Transfer senior Logan Aaronhalt led Maryland scorers with 17 points, but more impressive was how he got them.
Aaronhalt scored 15 of his 17 points from long range, hitting 5-of-7 from three for the game. At one point in the first half, Aaronhalt drained three in a row to lead a 9-0 run to help Maryland go up 28-13. His three point shooting essentially negated the effect that the Hawks Kyree Jones equally impressive early shooting had on the game. Jones finished with 24 points, but started the game off by taking almost all of the Hawks shots (and most from long range, where he hit 4-of-11).
Of course, it wasn’t just Aaronhalt doing all the scoring, as five players scored in double figures for the Terrapins. Shaquille Cleare, who got the start at center, finished with 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting. His soft touch was a bit too much to handle down low for UMES. His big-man counterpart, Charles Mitchell, also did his fair share of scoring with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Mitchell also tied his career high in rebounding by chipping in 11 boards over 17 minutes.
Nick Faust and Alex Len also had 10 points apiece in limited minutes on the floor. Len ended up with nine rebounds on the night, despite only playing sparingly. Faust, meanwhile, was 4-of-6 from the floor and had a beautiful alley-oop dunk in the first half via a no-look pass from Pe’Shon Howard.
The Terrapins overall had perhaps their best shooting night of the season, hitting 61% of their shots while also draining 50% from long range on 10-of-20 three pointers. Although there was plenty of offense to talk about, perhaps the most impressive aspect of the game was really on the defensive end. Maryland held the Hawks to 31% shooting from the field, and this marks the fifth straight game that the Terrapins have held an opponent to under 40% from the field this year. On the year, no team has shot over 45% against the Terrapins, making them one of the most formidable defensive teams in the nation.
Even more impressive is the fact that Maryland wasn’t even playing their everyday starters and players. Four walk-on players managed to get in the game for the Terrapins, and yet the defensive intensity never abated. The entire team played with intensity and hounded the Hawks all over the court.
So what can we take away from this game?
The Maryland Terrapins are a very deep and talented team that can use a number of lineups in order to succeed on the court. The knowledge that Logan Aaronhalt can shoot from deep really changes things for the Terrapins (in a good way). Last year, Maryland struggled going up against zone defenses all the time, and having a zone buster like Aaronhalt hitting threes will completely change how this team performs. When I look at the roster and the amount of weapons the Terrapins have, I shudder to think how good they would be if the turnovers were cut down a notch.
All things considered, Maryland is ready for ACC play but will continue to face tune-up matches for the next five games until Virginia Tech. Up next for the Terrapins, a home game against South Carolina State on December 8th at Comcast Center.