Freshman Jamie Kaiser Jr. was guarding the perimeter as UMBC attempted to get the last shot of the first half. The Retrievers swung the ball around the 3-point line, and as the next pass zipped, Kaiser jumped the passing lane for his third steal of the half. The clock was near zero when the forward rose up from half-court and shot. The high arching heave went in, and the Xfinity Center crowd erupted.
Kaiser’s shot capped off a 57-point first half by the Terrapins, their highest scoring total in a half since 2010. The Terps beat the Retrievers, 92-68, ending their 3-game losing streak.
“Obviously, a tough start, but being able to come back and get our swag back is important for us,” said Jahmir Young.
Maryland’s 57 points were 17 more than they scored all game against Villanova in their last game.
Maryland’s defense shined throughout the first half, providing a spark to the offense. The Terps forced 15 turnovers, leading to 17 points and held UMBC to 24 points in the half. Maryland’s offense was dominant from the paint, out-scoring UMBC 26-10 from within the arch.
“We just talked a lot about just flowing into the offense a little bit better. We also talked about just we need to press a little bit more aggressively to create some easy buckets and I thought, you know, when you get a couple of easy buckets early, it just it gives you more confidence, and you’re able to kind of wear them down a little bit,” said head coach Kevin Willard.
Every Maryland starter recorded either a steal or a block in the game, which included senior Jordan Geronimo, who started his third game of the year. Willard reverted to his prior starting lineup from the first two games of the season, with Geronimo as the fifth guy in the lineup after being replaced recently by Kaiser and Noah Batchelor.
“Jordan really does help us in so many different ways defensively,” said Willard. “It kind of frees up Donta a little bit, to be honest with you. He protects Jahmir, so he’s a guy that really fits well the fact that I have a lot of confidence in him defensively.”
The Terps scored 35 in the second half, pushing their lead as high as 36. The large cushion allowed for 13 players to get in the game, including walk-ons Ben Murphy and Lukas Sotell.
The Retrievers fought back, cutting the lead to 24 at its lowest point. Maryland’s dominant first half was too much to overcome for the Retrievers’ whose record fell to 3-3.
The Terps’ defense forced 23 turnovers, 16 coming from steals and blocks. Young led the Maryland offense with 20 points. DeShawn Harris-Smith, Donta Scott, and Julian Reese each contributed with double-digit scoring performances, as well. The Terps shot 45.6% from the field, scoring over half of their points from the paint.
Maryland will get a three-day rest before they take on South Alabama on Saturday.