Between the Baselines: Bench production and size advantage propel Maryland basketball to victory over Fairfield

After so much optimism throughout the offseason, Ricky Lindo Jr. had high expectations entering his second season in College Park. In the season-opening win over Holy Cross, Lindo started, but played just 15 minutes. Against both Rhode Island and Oakland, it was a similar story — Lindo played a combined 16 minutes due to his subpar body language, according to head coach Mark Turgeon. 

“I think with Ricky it was all about he’s so hard on himself, so if he makes a mistake he puts his head down,” Turgeon explained.

Tuesday, was a complete flip of the script. Lindo displayed improved body language and was outstanding coming off the bench. He finished with a career-high 13 points and shot a perfect 6-of-6 from the field, a pivotal part of the Terps 74-55 victory.

“[Lindo Jr] is always one of the last people in the gym and he continues to work hard and when his number was called today he showed up, so I’m happy for him,” Jalen Smith said.

Seemingly more confident, but still even-keeled, Lindo was not only excellent offensively, but he also finished with seven rebounds, providing a strong-low post presence. With so much depth and versatility on the roster, finding his role was an early season challenge. However, Lindo’s strong performance Tuesday night is another reminder of what he brings, energy and physical rebounding.

“Energy, starting or coming off the bench, crash the boards and play defense,” Lindo said describing his role. “Maryland recruited me to play defense and rebound and that’s really what I’m good at, so you just need to play your role and offense will come.”

Maryland’s bench production was excellent throughout, outscoring the Stags 33-17. Both Lindo and Eric Ayala provided a great spark off the bench, combining for 26 points. Ayala shot an efficient 50 percent from the field and took command of the second unit. Hakim Hart also played well with increased minutes and showcased his great vision on a second half lob to Jalen Smith who threw down the thunderous jam.

While the Terps bench provided a great spark, Maryland knew they would have a heavy size advantage entering yesterday’s matchup. Overall, Maryland outrebounded Fairfield 43-31 and had a 16-7 advantage on the offensive glass. 

Utilizing their size, the Maryland bigs were able to get good low-post position leading to an 18-2 second-chance points advantage. The trio of Jalen Smith, Lindo and Makhel Mitchell combined for 10 offensive rebounds. All three imposed their will down low, leaving the Stags post players with two choices; either foul or allow the offensive rebound.

“In practice one of our offensive emphasis was pretty much being a relentless offensive rebounding team and that’s been a factor,” Jalen Smith said. “Coach Turgeon has been punishing us for not going to the offensive glass, so it just became a habit.”

Recognizing Maryland’s size advantage, Fairfield was reluctant to shoot in the paint and scored 36 of their 55 points from behind the arc. Fairfield finished with just 10 points in the paint on the night, due to the Terps imposing size down low. On the other end of the floor, the Terps continued to pound the ball inside finishing with 34 points in the paint.

With the Terps schedule and competition ramping up, generating production from both the bench and starting units will be pivotal to building on the 4-0 start.

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