Feature photo by Greg Fiume and courtesy of Umterps.com
The No. 2 Maryland Terrapins basketball team suffered its first loss of the season at the hands of North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Tuesday night.
On Friday night, the Terps (7-1) rebounded, showing maturity and defensive poise, as they defeated Saint Francis (3-4) 96-55 and held the Red Flash to 29 percent shooting from the field.
“All we’ve talked about since Tuesday night was defending,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “In our film session, our whole practice yesterday was defense.”
While the Red Flash made 18 of 62 shots from the field, the Terps made 31 of 46, shooting 67.4 percent from the field and 47.4 percent on 19 attempts from behind the three point line.
The Terps made strides offensively at the beginning of the contest. In the first two minutes and six seconds, the Terps jumped out to a 9-0 lead. Forward Jake Layman scored five of those points. On the first offensive possession, the Terps called a play for Layman, resulting in a converted layup.
“I thought our guys were mature enough and understand how important Jake is to us to get him going early,” Turgeon said. “They found him and they made extra passes to him, all of that was big.”
The early success continued through the rest of the game. The Terps never trailed and posted their highest offensive scoring output since they defeated University of Maryland Eastern Shore on Dec. 5, 2012.
In 19 minutes on the court, forward Robert Carter Jr. paced the Terps offensively with 20 points, his highest scoring output of since 2013. He went 9 for 10 from the free throw line, while dishing out six assists and grabbing six rebounds. He also recorded two blocks.
Layman and center Diamond Stone each posted 16 points. Forward Damonte Dodd, who made his first start of the season, finished with eight points, making all four of his field goals. Guard Rasheed Sulaimon scored eight points, while point guard Melo Trimble scored three points and dished out a team-high seven assists.
“We probably have the best offensive team in the country but [defensively] we can get better,” Carter Jr. said. “That’s where we need to grow.”
While there is still room to grow, Carter Jr. was impressed with the effort the Terps put forth.
“We guarded tonight. We focused on it,” Carter Jr. said. “I don’t know what they shot but I feel like we made them shoot a pretty bad field goal percentage and we’re just getting better.”
After the game, Turgeon applauded his team and called the game “a step in the right direction.” The team’s shooting percentage impressed Turgeon and he highlighted that they assisted on 22 of 31 baskets.
Turgeon said that the Tar Heels game was helpful for him as a coach. On Friday, it helped him lead the Terps to a 41-point victory and fix an area that the Terps have struggled with: playing good defense for 40 minutes.
“I was pleased for us to have 22 turnovers in North Carolina and to shoot 53% and that we were still in it late in the game,” Turgeon said. “That’s when I was like, ‘okay, we really have got a chance to be good. I can fix the turnovers and I can fix the defense, can’t fix it overnight, but I can fix those things.’”
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