Maryland men’s basketball throttles Minnesota for second time this season

Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Hakim Hart tipped off a pass intended for Joshua Ola-Joseph and darted down the court. Once in range of the net, Hart jumped up for a one-handed dunk to ignite Maryland’s crowd and put the Terps up by 20 points for a third time.

Minnesota didn’t prove to challenge for an upset, losing to the Terps, 88-70. Maryland remains undefeated at home in conference play.

After being swatted on the road against Nebraska to break their two-game win streak, the 18-9 Maryland Terrapins returned home to Xfinity Center on Wednesday night to host the 7-18 Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Still sitting at the bottom of the Big Ten with a 1-14 in-conference record, Minnesota came for revenge after losing to Maryland 46-81 earlier this month, awarding Maryland its biggest conference win in over 70 years.

Julian Reese was crucial to keeping Maryland on pace with Minnesota’s highly-productive start. He accounted for six points and three rebounds in just the first five minutes as Maryland trailed, 8-13.

“I thought they let me just get to the middle a lot so I took advantage of that,” Reese said post-game in regards to his success. “I was just running the floor, getting rebounds, cleaning up misses. It was just things like that got me going and I was able to score a lot.”

Ian Martinez proved to be a valuable asset in the beginning of the game as well. Subbed in for Don Carey just five minutes into the half, Martinez made quick work of his time, acquiring three rebounds and a basket in just four minutes of play.

As the first half progressed, Maryland’s failure to keep possession on offense cripled its chances of pulling away early. Despite making nine of their 13 shots in the first ten minutes, the Terps’ five turnovers on offense allowed Minnesota to take advantage of easy baskets.

Eventually, Maryland found its groove, making a 15-0 run as Minnesota failed to score on seven straight possessions. The momentum allowed Maryland enough confidence to push full steam ahead, resulting in a 47-30 score at halftime.

Hakim Hart and Donta Scott tied as the first half’s point leaders, putting up 14 points each. Julian Reese and Jahmir Young followed behind with eight and seven points, respectively.

After a quiet first period, Don Carey got things started for Maryland in the second half with an 8-0 run that included a pair of three-pointers and a jumper. The Terps were up 60-40 just five minutes into the half, pushing themselves to break yet another program record for margin of victory.

“[Don] has been a great leader and a great sacrifice on this offense this year,” head coach Kevin Willard said in his post-game presser. “Statistically, he hasn’t had the year that he would want but he’s a huge reason why we are where we are.”

Leading 72-53 with only 10 minutes left to play, head coach Kevin Willard stuck with his entire starting five to ensure that Minnesota would not draw any closer. Even Julian Reese was kept in play for several possessions after drawing his fourth personal foul.

It wasn’t until there were five minutes remaining when the starters finally left the court. As the final minutes drew closer, Minnesota made one last push with an 11-0 run, but it would not be enough.

“It’s late February, it’s our tenth [Big Ten] win, it’s for third place, you don’t want to have a bad loss this time of year when people are talking about it. You show that you just go out and handle business,” Coach Willard said.

The leaders of the night for Maryland were Julian Reese (21 points, 12 rebounds), Hakim Hart (20 points, six assists), and Donta Scott (18 points, five rebounds). Usual playmaker Jahmir Young finished the night with 11 points, and Don Carey followed close behind with 10.

“I feel like every guy on this team is capable of stepping up to the plate,” Donta Scott said. “Tonight a lot of guys made shots and I’m happy for them and happy we got the dub.”