Leading the fast break after an aggressive defensive effort by Jalen Smith, Anthony Cowan Jr. was able to quickly scamper to the basket before the Stags defense had time to react. A solid contest by the opposing big man took Cowan Jr.’s attention away from his shot and he missed — but Smith’s athleticism allowed him to flush a putback dunk and further ignite Maryland’s hot streak on the offensive end.
The new spark on offense coupled with the Terps’ array of defensive coverages gave the top 10 squad another win to add to the ever-growing hype this season. Maryland took this game against Fairfield with a 74-55 scoreline.
The offense for Maryland was unlike previous games this season. On paper, the Terps shot at a consistent but average 44 percent from the field and 38 percent from three — their highest percentage all season. Ricky Lindo Jr., often recognized as a defensive piece, had a breakout game of his own on the offensive end notching a season-high 13 point game while shooting 100 percent from the field.
“Playing a lot last year has really helped this year,” said Lindo. “[Coach Turgeon] considers us sophomores veterans so that’s a really good sign.”
While the constant theme in Maryland’s first three games has been its slow starts, the Terps were able to hit the ground running on defense. Maryland showed different defenses in the opening minutes and Fairfield responded by maintaining composure. The Terps forced the Stags to take low-percentage three-point attempts but surprisingly converted at a high rate.
“We threw a lot at [Fairfield] and we’re getting a lot of different defenses and we’re getting better,” said Turgeon.
In the first ten minutes Fairfield had acquired all of their points from behind the arc at 57 percent. The tactic was briefly effective in the first 13 minutes for the Stags, but the depth and talent was far too overbearing. In addition to talent and depth, Maryland was much taller in size. The length advantage allowed for second-chance points. By the end of the half, the Terps were able to tally 16 second-chance points whereas Fairfield had 0.
“One of our offensive emphasis [in practice] was being a relentless offensive team,” said Smith. “Turgeon has been punishing us for not going to the offensive glass so it just became a habit.”
The Stags would quickly become victim to their own playstyle at about eight minutes in the first half and the Terps pounced on this opportunity to break away on a six-minute, 10-2 run. Thanks to a run fueled by their talent and defensive effort, the Terps turned a one-point lead into a 14-point lead by the end of the half.
The Stags continued to rely on their shooting ability, only scoring 10 points in the paint to Maryland’s 34. The style of play put points on the board as Fairfield outscored the Terps for the majority of the second half. However, as the second half moved forward, Maryland showed significant improvements in its half court offense.
“We’re doing some nice things in the half court but we’re not there yet,” said Turgeon.
A combination of chemistry and constant off-ball movement allowed the Terps to draw fouls and earn several open shots. The Stags lost much of the spark that pulled them through the start of the first half and this proved to contribute to their downfall. In the final seven minutes of the game, Fairfield was 1-for-10 on all field goal attempts and the Terps easily moved to 4-0 on the season.