Maryland men’s basketball dismantles Minnesota for largest conference victory in over 70 years

Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Caelum Swanton-Rodger caught the pass from Jahari Long and jumped up to the net, dunking the ball hard through the basket. A foul was called on the defense, giving Swanton-Rodger the free-throw shot Maryland needed to go up by 40 points.

With the Golden Gophers struggling to keep their heads above the water all night long, Maryland walked away with its biggest conference win of the season, 81-46.

After three strong home victories against Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Indiana, the 15-7 Maryland Terrapins traveled to Minneapolis on Saturday to face the 7-14 Minnesota Golden Gophers. 

Maryland has been shaky on the road so far this season, coming out victorious in just one of its six away games thus far. Fortunately for the Terps, Minnesota was ranked worst in the Big Ten heading into the matchup, which seemingly induced confidence to dominate early.

“Defensively, I thought our guys really started to figure out who we are again,” head coach Kevin Willard said post-game. “We came out with a couple of deflections, a couple of steals. [Minnesota] started the game with a 30 second shot clock violation which I thought was a great first possession.”

Julian Reese got the momentum going for Maryland with a jumper from inside the paint, and Donta Scott followed him up with a jumper and three-pointer on the next two possessions to establish a five-point lead.

As Maryland tried to pull away in the first few minutes, Minnesota freshman Pharrel Payne gave it his all in an effort to keep the game close. With a pair of back-to-back dunks, he single-handedly collected his team’s first eight points.

In the first ten minutes of play, Donta Scott accounted for 11 of Maryland’s 22 points. Following his second three-pointer of the night, Ian Martinez knocked down two more on the next two possessions, stretching Maryland’s lead by 17 points. 

At half, Maryland led 41-21. With 11 points, Donta Scott remained Maryland’s point-leader in the first period, but was trailed close behind by Julian Reese, who had 10. The Terps’ field goal shooting percentage was an impressive 57%.

Usual playmaker Jahmir Young had an uncharacteristic first period, earning his first seven points in the final six minutes of play with a three-point shot and a pair of layups. He quickly amped up his game at the start of the second half, racking up five points in the first two minutes.

In the first five minutes off the bench, Maryland took off on a 15-2 run to put itself up by 33 points, diminishing Minnesota’s chance of pulling off a win at home.

After earning his fourth personal foul of the night, Julian Reese was pulled from the game to avoid the risk of fouling out. He ended the night with 16 points and five rebounds.

“Playing with foul trouble recently kind of made my confidence go down as a player,” Reese said post-game. “I just learned to play through it and play my game knowing the fouls are just going to come naturally.”

As the remainder of Maryland’s starters gradually left the court, Minnesota hit a detrimental scoring drought in the final ten minutes of the game, making just two shots on 12 straight possessions.

Julian Reese finished as Maryland’s point-leader (16), followed by Jahmir Young (14), Donta Scott (13), and Ian Martinez (11).

“I think [Julian] has become a dominant inside player, he is a guy we feel very comfortable running an offense through. I think he is playing unselfish, physical and playing some really good basketball,” Coach Willard said.