Balanced offensive attack leads Maryland men’s basketball in rout over Wingate

(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.)

As the wing three from junior guard Jade Brahmbhatt fell through the net, both Maryland’s (8-6, 2-5 B1G) bench and those on the floor erupted with joy and emotion as the walk-on notched his first points as a Terp. 

That jubilation and excitement was evident throughout, as 13 different Terps scored and the Terps’ offense shined in its commanding 100-58 victory over (D-II) Wingate. Friday’s win marked the first time Maryland has scored 100 or more points since it scored 104 against Marshall on Nov. 23, 2018. 

Collectively, Maryland shot 60.4% from the field and 46.2% from behind the arc finding success both on the perimeter and on the interior. Junior Aaron Wiggins led all scorers with 21 points, 18 of which he scored in the first half. 

Four other Terps also finished in double figures, headlined by 17-year-old James Graham III, who finished with 10 points. Those 10 points are the first of Graham’s career, on an afternoon where freshman walk-on Aidan McCool, Brahmbhatt and freshman Arnaud Revaz also scored their first career points.

“Just seeing those guys go out there and be able to do what they’ve done in practice and be able to contribute to the game is always awesome,” Wiggins said.

The opening 10 minutes of the game, Maryland looked like a team that hadn’t played in five days. The Terps committed five turnovers over that span, while also not sharing the ball, which led to head coach Mark Turgeon giving his team an impassioned plea to share the ball. Although Maryland struggled to execute offensively early on, Francis Sio ignited Wingate’s early offense with nine of the Bulldogs’ first 18 points.

However, over the final 10 minutes of the first half, Maryland shook off much of the rust that plagued its offense at the start. Over the final 10:06, the Terps scored 26 points highlighted by efficient shooting and quick ball movement. That stretch was catalyzed by two extended runs, which helped Maryland enter halftime with a double-digit lead. 

“Offensively, I thought we shared the ball,” Turgeon said. “27 assists on 32 baskets was terrific.”

With 4:52 remaining, Maryland orchestrated a 13-0 spurt, it’s largest of the first half, which ballooned the lead to 18. Over that stretch, Maryland’s perimeter shooting shined as Hakim Hart, Wiggins and Darryl Morsell each knocked down a three.

As the Terps’ offense hit a groove, the defense also heightened its intensity, locking down the Bulldogs and forcing them to settle for contested shots. At the break, Maryland led by 13 as it shot 57% from the field and 43% from behind the arc.

Maryland continued to build on that momentum as they opened the second half with an 11-2 run in the opening five minutes. Wiggins and Galin Smith catalyzed the offense with their inside-out attack and connection on the pick and roll. Smith punished the Bulldogs with a ferocious jam inside and let out an emphatic yell after the jam. Wiggins continued his strong perimeter shooting as he buried a trey.

“Coming out of halftime we really wanted to come out strong and put the game away,” Smith said. “Me and [Aaron] have a really strong connection when it comes to the pick and roll, handoffs and stuff like that. It was good to get going.”

Now leading by 25 with 16:17 remaining, Maryland remained in firm control for the remainder of the contest allowing some of the younger players like Graham, Aquan Smart and Marcus Dockery to play some extended minutes. 

Less than three minutes later, Graham left his imprint on the game by scoring eight consecutive points showing off his perimeter shooting prowess. First, Graham scored in the paint on the feed from Smart. Shortly after, the 17-year-old confidently buried back-to-back triples, which catapulted Maryland’s lead to 31. That short sequence displayed some of Graham’s long-term potential and why he was rated as a four-star recruit coming out of high school.

As the second half continued, Maryland’s exquisite ball movement took center stage as everyone on the floor was contributing in the score column. Dockery was the beneficiary of some of that unselfishness with five points as he continued to show he’s not afraid to shoot and plays with tremendous confidence on the floor. 

However, Maryland’s ultimate excitement began in the final six and half minutes. First, Revas knocked down a free throw becoming the second Terp to notch his first career point. 

A few minutes later, McCool registered his first two points, as he knocked down a pair of free throws at the line after aggressively driving to the basket. Finally, Brahmbhatt’s aforementioned three put the finishing touches on a day headlined by firsts for Maryland basketball.

“It’s really what we wanted out to get out of today,” Turgeon said. “Guys that haven’t scored in their career are now in the history books forever. You can’t ever draw up things the way you want it to work out, but today I don’t know if it could’ve gone any better.”

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