Maryland basketball cruises past Miami, wins Basketball Hall of Fame tip-off tournament

Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

With four minutes left, Don Carey stepped back to drill his fourth three of the game and the team’s first of the half after a torrid start. This gave him 12 points, making him the fifth starter to hit double-digit scoring. Maryland, still in control, had enough life to make one more run to put Miami to bed. They forced a Wong miss on the other end, snatched the rebound, and ran to get Reese open for a lob from Young, ending in a dunk to put the lead at a comfortable 81-63 after the Hurricanes threatened to rally back in the waning minutes.

Donta Scott put in another three, his third of the afternoon, which got him 24 points. Considering he put in 25 yesterday in the previous round against St. Louis, he was a no-brainer for tournament MVP, having averaged 24.5 points over the weekend. 

Scott was awarded with his plaque, and the Terps raised the tournament trophy, warning the Big 10 that a challenger approaches. They beat Miami 88-70, and remain undefeated after five games.

“I have one easy rule. If you play really hard, I’ll let you take any shot you want,” coach Kevin Willard said. “The only thing I ask is you can come out, and you play hard, play together. We have unbelievably high-character kids who want to win and understand what it takes to win. They’re getting rewarded for their hard work and the effort they’re putting in, and that’s what matters to me.”

Miami beat Providence 74-64 yesterday, setting them up for the championship game against Maryland in the Basketball Hall of Fame tip-off tournament after the Terps bested St. Louis in a 95-67 beatdown. Maryland appropriately chose to wear their gold uniforms for the first time this season. 

Just like how yesterday was a battle between 3-0 squads, today Maryland matches up against a fellow 4-0 team in Miami. The Terps have yet to lose under new coach Kevin Willard, making him the first Maryland coach to win his first four outings in his first season in charge. This earned him “Kevin Willard” chants yesterday in Uncasville, something he later stated he hadn’t noticed during game action.

Julian Reese started off on the right foot, fighting for the rebound off of Donta Scott’s first shot to put back the rebound while getting fouled. This got him a quick two points, already setting him up to pass yesterday’s point total of 4, which he tied a minute later on his second shot.

Jahmir Young splashed the first three for Maryland, a good sign that the Terps could carry over the same momentum that helped them bury St. Louis yesterday when they hit a season-high 13 threes.

The first five minutes saw five lead changes, with a 9-9 tie symbolizing the level of opponent Miami. Maryland has played four games, and each has ended in a blowout, and the first half has seen the Terps consistently get out ahead and never look back. By seven minutes, all five Maryland starters had scored. 

Unfortunately for the Terps, Miami continued to keep up. Isaiah Wong, who leads the team in scoring with 14 points a game, hit four of his first five shots for nine points in as many minutes.

Maryland went on an 8-0 run to create some space in their lead, staying hot from behind the arc. Every starter not named Reese had hit a three, putting them at 4-9 halfway through the first half. Out of the timeout, Don Carey drained two more, pushing the lead to 28-17 with ten minutes gone. A quick 7-0 run by the Hurricanes put the game back within reach two minutes later.

Nijel Pack, who started at guard for Miami, went out with a few minutes left in the first half after being fouled midair by Carey. He took a hard landing and exited with a bloody nose, only coming back with two minutes left with cotton in his nose.

Anytime Miami threatened to make the game closer, Scott stepped up. He hit five of his six shots in the first half, including nailing both threes he took and even dished out three assists to get Reese’s numbers up. Whenever the Terps’ offensive possession threatened to fizzle out, Donta Scott muscled his way to the paint to take a midrange or layup, likely impressing whatever NBA scouts were in attendance for this four-team tournament.

Maryland went into the half up 47-34 on the Hurricanes, hitting 15 of 24 shots and going 7-13 from three, threatening to play even more efficiently than yesterday. Scott had 15 points, again looking to challenge his career-high 25 points he tied yesterday. However, the Terps had to clean up their turnovers going into the second half, having already accumulated 10 in 20 minutes. Carey, in particular, was egregious in this category, with four himself.

Miami, on the other hand, had gone 13-31 from the field and 2-10 from distance. They did have two players in double-figure scoring compared to Maryland’s one, with Wong scoring 11 points and Norchad Omier getting 10. They were out-rebounded 24-8 in the first half.

The Terps continued their romp when the second half commenced, getting up 58-40 after three minutes. Maryland had stacked up seven offensive rebounds.

Reese flexed his footwork a few minutes later, going up and under to get a reverse layup to go over three Miami defenders in the post. On his first five shots, Reese got them all to drop.

Maryland’s rebounding was one of the factors that helped the Terps keep Miami at arm’s reach in the second half as their three-ball cooled. Scott and Reese, both grabbed seven boards, combining for six offensive rebounds, Carey nabbed five of his own, and Patrick Emilien contributed four off the bench. 

The Hurricanes kept the Terps honest in the final ten minutes, continuing to fight. Isaiah Wong hit 20 points with seven minutes remaining, hitting back-to-back contested midranges to cut the deficit to 10. A few seconds later, Young traveled to give Maryland their 15th turnover.

Carey delivered again from deep, finally snapping Maryland’s cold streak from three-point land. The Terps cobbled together a few more stops in the last few minutes, with coach Willard finally emptying the bench with 30 seconds left. They finished with a final score of 88-70, winning the Hall of Fame championship and rising to 5-0 on the young season.

Scott’s 49 points and 13 rebounds in two days were enough to catapult him into the 1,000-point, 500-rebound club, making him the 17th Maryland player to be bestowed with that honor.

“I think I have the best backcourt in the country right now, and I think they’ll agree,” coach Willard said. “It’s the first time they’ve played this level of defense consistently.” Regarding the high turnover game, he attributes it to the “first time we’ve had to play back-to-back games.”

The Terps come home for their next game on Friday, where they’ll host Coppin State (3-3) back at College Park.