Suffocating defense and offensive balance boost No. 15 Maryland in commanding victory over Indiana

Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Strong defensive intensity has been Maryland’s (12-2, 2-1 BIG) forte all season-long, as it takes advantage of its length and quick defensive rotations. That trend continued Saturday afternoon at the Xfinity Center, an encouraging sign moving forward into conference play. 

Maryland held the Hoosiers to 36% shooting and 22% from behind the arc, while also forcing 14 turnovers. The Hoosiers leading scorer, freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis, was held to a season-low seven points. Maryland’s bigs did an excellent job fronting Davis on the low-post now allowing anything easy.

Converting defense to offense, Maryland scored 25 points off the Hoosiers mistakes. While the Terps led by just eight at the half, they utilized a 25-3 second half run to cruise a dominant 75-59 victory.

Maryland’s offense flowed much better than in recent games, with four Terps finishing in double-figures. Sophomore Jalen Smith led all scorers with 19 points, while the trio of Anthony Cowan Jr., Aaron Wiggins and Darryl Morsell also each finished in double-figures. With his 13-point performance, Cowan became the 15th player in Maryland history to score 1600 career points, another impressive accolade during his tenure in College Park.

While Maryland’s offensive flow was much improved in the second half, the first half was a struggle especially early on. Maryland shot just 29% from the field and had just eight points halfway through the first half. However, Jalen Smith and Morsell sparked the Terps in the final ten minutes of the half. 

Smith knocked down consecutive triples for Maryland, serving as a catalyst for an 11-0 run. The 11-0 run put the Terps back on top 22-16 and provided the offensive spark for which Maryland had desperately searching. Smith and Morsell’s impact were not just felt during the run, the duo from Baltimore combined for 17 of Maryland’s 28 first half points.

Struggling to score in the first half, the Hoosiers came out energized and much improved offensively in the second half. In the first six minutes, the Hoosiers outscored Maryland 13-8 beating the Terps to loose balls, creating second chance opportunities. 

However, sensing the Hoosiers were mounting a comeback, Maryland bounced right back with an 8-0 run of its own to extend the lead to 44-33. Shortly after, Indiana continued to battle with a tough layup by guard Rob Phinisee cutting the deficit to 44-36.

Over the ensuing three minutes, Maryland took control of the game with another 11-0 run extending the lead to 57-38. During the run, the Terps once again used their defense to convert into easy offense. After forcing a turnover, Cowan pushed the pace in transition and fed freshman Donta Scott in transition for an emphatic jam. Scott’s dunk was one of several easy baskets for Maryland during the run, for which Indiana had no answers.

Indiana finally stopped the bleeding with 6:11 remaining on a free throw by Alijami Durham cutting the deficit to 18. However, Maryland kept its foot on the gas pedal, utilizing another 14-2 run catapulting the lead to 71-41. 

Morsell and Cowan converted back-to-back three-point plays as part of the run sending the Xfinity Center crowd and the bench into raptures. In command of the game with less than four minutes remaining, head coach Mark Turgeon began to empty his bench. With several bench players on the floor, Indiana finished the game on a 9-0 run refusing to give up until the final whistle.

Maryland will need to maintain similar defensive intensity and offensive balance with another challenging test on Tuesday against No. 5 Ohio State at the Xfinity Center.