With 3:59 remaining in the most recent men’s basketball outing for Maryland, Donta Scott nailed his sixth and seventh made free throws on as many attempts. This gave him a total of 25 points in the afternoon, enough to tie his career-high, which was initially set against Ohio State last year.
Scott’s impressive accomplishment was just one of several scoring outbursts from the Terps, as four other players hit double-digit scoring in a 95-67 trounce over St. Louis.
“Coach always tells me to take my time,” Donta Scott said. “I didn’t try to force anything, so I just took my time today.”
The two teams meet for the semifinal round of the 2022 Basketball Hall of Fame tip-off, an NCAA tournament hosted by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and sponsored by the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Depending on how they do today, the Terps will face either Miami or Providence tomorrow to close the tournament.
Maryland has played St. Louis only once before, when in 1994, the Terps topped the Billikens 74-66. Joe Smith, who’d go on to get picked first in the 1995 NBA draft, poured in 29 points and 15 boards when the teams met in the NCAA tournament.
The Terps took a few minutes to get going relative to their first three outings, scoring two points over their first two minutes. The starts of their games have been when they buried their opponents early, and missed their first three shots from behind the three-point line, showing early shades of last game’s frigid 4-20 shooting demonstration from long range.
Hakim Hart and Don Carey soon got the Terps the comfortable early lead they’ve been accustomed to, hitting back-to-back threes to cobble together a quick 8-0 run. When the Billikens scored a few of their own, Carey responded with another three, who was ready to have the first big shooting game of his young Maryland career.
Carey, who had shot 2-14 from deep in his first three games in a Maryland uniform, looks to bounce back to his Georgetown days, specifically last season when he shot 38.8% from three on nearly six tries a game.
Donta Scott and Hart built on the lead by continuously getting to the rim, their big bodies too much for St. Louis to handle through the first quarter of the game. Their defense also showed its colors early, holding the Billikens to 3-14 from the field, good for 21% through nine minutes.
Julian Reese continued his helpful contributions, though it didn’t show in the points or rebounds through the first half. Knowing where to stand and put his hands up, he blocked two shots in the first half and drew a charge to keep the Billikens honest when they attacked the basket.
Hart hit six of his first nine shots, including two threes, good for 16 points in 19 minutes in the first half. With three minutes left in half, he hustled for a loose ball, throwing it wildly behind his back onto the court as he staggered out of bounds, with Ian Martinez capitalized by laying it up to put the Terps up 38-21 with three and a half minutes remaining.
The Terps went into the half boasting a 51-27 lead, thanks to three players already scoring double figures. Hakim Hart held the most with 16, and Donta Scott and Don Carey had 12.
Maryland has struggled from deep in their last pair of games, going 6-39 from three, but through their first 20 minutes were 9-19 on three-point attempts and 19-37 from the field.
When St. Louis scored six points in the span of 59 seconds to push the deficit within 20 at 57-38, Donta Scott emerged to power through the Billikens’ interior, getting the layup to go plus the foul. This helped to calm the troops amidst a messy start to the second half, which had seen the Terps cough up three turnovers in four minutes as the calls had started to tip in favor of their opponent.
Julian Reese finally got on the board with six and a half minutes gone in the second half, with a turnaround hook shot giving him his first two points of the afternoon on his second try. Reese is coming off scoring 19 in back-to-back games against Western Carolina and Binghamton, his career-high in points.
With just over 10 minutes remaining, Scott pump faked and drove to the rim, getting his eighth shot to drop. This gave him his 21st point, making him the team’s first 20+ point scorer of the season. Hart initially looked poised to pass that mark but was 0-1 in the half to that point. Scott would finish with 25 points, tied for his career high.
Ian Martinez, who poured in 14 points of his own to go along with a steal and an assist, would net a career-high for himself at Maryland. Jahmir Young provided 11 points himself, making him the fourth starter and fifth Maryland player to hit double figures.
Javon Perkins kept the Billikens in the game in the second half, who went for a team-high 17 points. This wouldn’t be enough, as Maryland triumphed in a 95-67 win over St. Louis. This made new coach Kevin Willard the first coach to go 4-0 over his first four games with the program.
Yuri Collins, “one of the top point guards in the nation,” as identified by coach Willard, added 12 points on 3-11 shooting, another testament to the Maryland defense.
“This team’s been a blast to coach, I think every one of them has a little bit of a chip on their shoulder,” coach Willard said. “What you’re seeing on the court is a result of their hard work, their attitude, their own selflessness to play with each other. These guys are getting rewarded for their own work.”
Maryland’s final score much exceeded their frequent high mark, which was 76 points against Binghamton in the game prior. Today’s victory pushes their season scoring average from 72.6 all the way to 78.25.
The Terps eliminate St. Louis from further Basketball Hall of Fame tournament contention and will face either Miami at 1 p.m. or Providence at 3:30 p.m. for the next round.