Maryland basketball blows out Oakland with strong defensive effort

Complementing a perfectly placed lob by Anthony Cowan, Jalen Smith finished what he started. With less than a minute left in the first half, Smith kicked off a fast break with a block and rebound and ended the break with a give and go lob with Cowan. This quick defense to offense turnaround is key to Maryland’s play style was crucial in Saturday’s matchup against Oakland. 

The Terps started the game, like their previous two, very slow and indecisive on the offensive end. However, their defense along with an offensive turnaround took them the distance and allowed them to add another game to the win column with an 80-50 victory. 

While the Terps stayed true to their initial plan on defense of neutralizing Oakland’s inside play, their stagnant half-court offense fell prey to their lengthy opponent. Tallying eight turnovers and six fouls in the first 12 minutes Maryland looked a step off the pace, clear in its 18-17 deficit.

“We just had some uncharacteristic turnovers,” said Aaron Wiggins. “But we pulled it together second half.” 

The Golden Grizzlies turned Maryland’s sloppy play into points, staying close to their top 10 opponent. But the Terps turned things around, executing more regularly on offense. In the last nine minutes of the first half, Maryland flipped the switch, rattling off an 18-4 run to put distance between them and Oakland.

“We just made shots, made plays and we just kept guarding and that’s how we were able to do it,” said Coach Mark Turgeon.

The Terps showcased their defensive prowess, silencing the Grizzlies for almost five minutes. Oakland’s possessions throughout Maryland’s run were long and often ended with wild, contested shots. In the final eight minutes of the half, the Terps were also visibly more focused. Maryland only notched two fouls and one turnover, closing the half in a composed manner.

After a slow start reminiscent of their previous two matchups, the Terps put their foot down and ended the first half with a 35-22 lead. Jalen Smith led the charge on both ends of the court. He finished effortlessly on offense and established himself on defense, recording two blocks. 

The Terps and the Grizzlies came out in the second half firing combining for eleven threes in the first six minutes. While Maryland only made two of its seven, the Golden Grizzlies notched a more efficient two out of four. But Maryland made up for its offensive inefficiency with a new defensive scheme. Turgeon deployed a full-court press, trapping the ball handler after the inbound, and flustering the Grizzlies. 

With this defensive change, Maryland was able to stretch its lead to 23 points at the halfway point of the second half. The Terps forced the Grizzlies to take ill-advised, erratic shots as their plays broke down. Even as the Grizzlies found their way inside and drew fouls, they converted less than 20% of their free throws. 

As the Terps pulled away, they were able to exhaust their bench, giving younger players valuable minutes.

“Just to see them out on the court and have success and have the crowd behind them cheering them on — it’s just a great feeling,” Darryl Morsell said.  

Maryland walk-on and fan favorite, Reese Mona stood out in the final minutes with a one-man five point run and a last minute block to close the game. It was a fitting end to a dominant performance, as the Terps won 80-50.