By Sebastian Obando
Jake Layman jogged onto the court in front of a sellout crowd at the Xfinity Center on Friday night. The Terps were preparing to play their first game since their first loss of the season to North Carolina just three days prior. For Layman, however, this game was much more significant, as the senior was coming off three consecutive poor performances. The veteran forward, however, immediately shrugged off his recent form, scoring a quick layup in the opening possession of the half. The basket foreshadowed Layman’s dominating first half performance, as he headed into the locker room at intermission as the Terps’ leading scorer.
“It was good to see Coach have confidence in me on that first play,” Layman said regarding his first points of the game against Saint Francis. “It makes it a lot easier when your first bucket goes in.”
Averaging approximately six points in the three games before Saint Francis, Layman’s underperformances peaked versus North Carolina on Tuesday, Dec 1. Against the Tar Heels, the senior connected only one of his five shots and missed all three of his attempts from beyond the arc in the Terps’ first loss of the season. At the end of the night, Layman finished with only four points and three turnovers, marking his worst scoring performance this year.
“We have to get Jake going and have to play for him,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “I think our guys are mature enough and understand how important Jake is to us, to get him going early.”
Against Saint Francis, the Terps adhered to Turgeon’s message, as Layman quickly turned around his recent shortcomings on the court. The senior dominated the first half, successfully making his first five shot attempts. Moreover, Layman enjoyed his best performance from long range, connecting four of his six shots from beyond the arc. The forward finished the night matching his season high of 16 points.
“It wasn’t just North Carolina, it was a couple of games in a row actually. I think everyone kind of goes through cycles where they don’t play very well,” Layman said. “My coaches and teammates did a great job of keeping me grounded and they made sure that my confidence was still there.”