By Sebastian Obando
The crowd got on its feet as the seconds dwindled down in Xfinity Center. Guard Dez Wells clutched the ball near mid-court, looking towards the game-clock situated above the backboard glass. As the time expired and the buzzer sounded across the arena, the crowd roared with applause and liveliness. The Terps had just won their first ever Big Ten home opener against Minnesota 70-58. As the team jogged off the court, the crowd continued to cheer, a short glimpse of how special the day was.
“The fans’ energy was just so fun to play in front of. That is what really just gave us our energy,” Sophomore Damonte Dodd said after the game. “If we keep winning [and] keep staying top ranked in the country, I think the fans are going to continue to come out.”
The atmosphere inside Xfinity helped spark the Terps’ defense, especially in the second half. The team held the Gophers to a field goal percentage of 22.6 percent, while not allowing a single successful three-point shot after the half-time interval. Ultimately, Minnesota shot 13.6 percent from beyond the arc, going 3 of 22. The performance displayed the effectiveness of the Maryland defense, showing signs of a potential dominant ability.
“We tried to stay close to shooters as best as we could. The one area we are coming quickly is defending and rebounding. That’s where we improved the most since the break,” Head Coach Mark Turgeon remarked about the defensive success. “I expect numbers like this. Especially in this building with that kind of crowd, I expect us to guard well.”
Along with the defense, the Terps also found success offensively. Guard Melo Trimble posted 20 points with six rebounds and two assists. Adding to the freshman’s contribution, Jake Layman and Dez Wells both scored 12 points, while notching six and seven boards respectively. Damonte Dodd also had one of his best performances of the season, grabbing 12 rebounds and scoring 9 points.
“We have a long way to go before we can call ourselves a really good team,” Dez Wells said after the game. “We have to continue to win, continue to execute, and defend the way we know how we can. As we continue to build off these wins, it’s going to get tougher and tougher. So each day we have to come in more focused to get better.”
The victory improves the Terps’ record to 14-1, the program’s best 15-game start since the 1996-97 season. The Terps now travel to Illinois to take on the Fighting Illini on Wednesday, January 7.