Maryland freshman guard Eric Ayala (5) looks to pass to a teammate in Maryland’s 100-67 victory over Lynn in their exhibition at the Xfinity Center, Oct. 30. (Emily Morina/ The Left Bench)

Five Takeaways: Maryland defeats Radford

The Maryland men’s basketball team beat Radford 78-64 on Saturday night. The Terps used a dominate second half to win the last non-conference game of the season schedule. Here are my takeaways on the win.

Another slow start

Similarly to their previous game against Seton Hall, the Terps started off lackadaisical against Radford. The Highlanders jumped out to an 11-3 lead and scored on their first eight possessions. Jalen Smith, who has started every contest this season, missed Saturday’s game with a stomach bug and his interior presence was definitely missed early on.

The Terps continued to struggle offensively, but their effort on defense was impressive as they held Radford to 8-27 shooting after the 6-7 start. The Terps shot 39 percent from the field and turned the ball over eight times in the first half, but were able to get a 34-32 lead going into the break.

Against a team like Radford, the Terps can get away with starting games off slowly, but this was the last non-conference game. The Big Ten is deep with quality teams and the Terps will need to get off to better starts to beat those kinds of teams.

Size matters

Even without Jalen Smith, the Terrapins still had a massive size advantage. Radford’s starting front court players stand at 6’8” and 6’5” while Maryland’s Bruno Fernando and Joshua Tomaic are 6’10” and 6’9” respectively. The Terps were able to use size to their advantage, outrebounded the Highlanders 43 to 28. Fernando recorded his fifth double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Maryland was effective getting the ball inside and as a result shot 25 free throws compared to eight attempts by Radford.

The Terps offense is much more effective when utilize their post players. Fernando often gets double teamed, and his passing out of double teams creates open shots for Maryland’s perimeter players. Fernando has been Maryland’s best player, so it is imperative that the Terps continue to get him the ball.

Balanced Attack

Maryland got contributions from all over the floor. Fernando led with 19 points, but Eric Ayala, Darryl Morsell and Anthony Cowan were also in double figures while Aaron Wiggins had nine points. Freshman Ricky Lindo Jr. had his best game of the season, scoring eight points and grabbing ten rebounds, which are both career highs. I was also impressed with the minutes that backup reserve Ivan Bender gave the team.

Depth has been a problem for the Terps all season, so this performance was certainly encouraging. In tightly contested Big Ten games, every possession matters and the bench needs to continue to make the most of their minutes.

Opposing guards continue to hurt Maryland

Maryland has struggled to defend opposing guards all season long. Some performances against the Terps have included Hofstra’s Justin Wright-Foreman scoring 27, Purdue’s Carsen Edwards dropping 20 and just a week ago Seton Hall’s Myles Powell filling it up for 27 points, Maryland has had problems stopping opposing guards and Saturday was no different. The Radford backcourt of Travis Fields Jr. and Carlik Jones combined for 42 points.

In college basketball, guard play can win teams games. All it takes is one guy to get hot and momentum can be shifted. Cowan and Morsell are very good defenders, but Maryland needs to collectively get better at slowing down opposing backcourts.

Radford is a good mid major program

This is a quality win for the Terps. The Highlanders were struggling coming into this game, losing four of their last five. However, they have already won at Texas and at Notre Dame this season. Radford won the Big South tournament last season and they are the favorite to repeat this year.

I like their backcourt of Fields Jr. and Jones, they are scrappy despite being undersized. If the Highlanders can dominate their conference, that will only help Maryland’s resume come March.