Terps Top Morgan State for 4th Straight Win
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Just back from Paradise, the Terrapins didn't exactly produce 40 minutes of heck defensively, but they produced enough at both ends of the court to record a fourth consecutive victory.
Jake Layman pumped in a career high 27 points and seven 3-pointers, and at times, the game came easily to the Terrapins who ran away for an 89-62 win over Morgan State Friday night at Comcast Center. Along the way, Maryland (5-2) got rolling on offense, establishing season highs in points (89), field goal percentage (.623), three-point percentage (.650) and assists (26).
"I think just from the start guys were looking for the extra guy and it carried over," explained Evan Smotrycz, who chipped in his second straight double-double with 19 points and a career high 12 rebounds. "It's a fun way to play when guys are looking for teammates and we can draw defenders, beat our initial guy and make the pass. I thought we did a great job of that."
But there were still lapses, maybe a little holiday hangover from turkey and a tournament title at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands. The Terrapins also had a season high 18 turnovers, hit just 10-of-22 from the free throw line and had a dickens of a time defending Morgan State's 7-2 Ian Chiles, who finished with 17 points and six rebounds but also got Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell in foul trouble.
"I don't think we were extremely sharp as far as concentration goes," said Maryland coach Mark Turgeon. "I thought we shot the ball really well. We were able to drive them. I think you saw it more with our defense and rebounding. Our concentration wasn't there. In the second half we played a lot better."
The last time Morgan State showed up in Comcast back in 2009, the Bears caught the Terrapins hibernating and came away with a 66-65 upset, their only victory in the seven-game series. Even with Chiles making plays inside and Morgan State getting 22 points off Terrapin turnovers, that didn't seem a possibility this time.
When the Bears (1-7) switched to the zone Maryland knew they would play, the Terrapins continued to move the ball and find openings and open players. That 13-of-20 shooting from 3-point range didn't hurt either.
Layman was 9-of-12 overall, and 7-of-10 behind the arc. Smotrcyz was 7-of-10 and 4-of-6. "From 3 tonight I was just shooting it and it was going in," said Layman, who bounced back from his 2-of-10, 6-point performance against Providence and then some. "They were leaving me wide open a lot because our guys were driving and getting three guys on them."
And about that second half Turgeon talked about, Maryland built the lead to 23 points a couple of times and then saw the Bears attack with renewed ferocity before the Terps clamped down defensively, allowing just one basket the final 5:36. Morgan State had seven missed shots and five turnovers over that span.
"We're a lot better today than we were two weeks ago," said Turgeon. "This will be our first true road game (Wednesday at Ohio State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge) so that'll be a challenge for us. I like to think we'll be pretty focused and dialed in."
The Terrapins were just that the final six minutes before 9,517 fans and new special assistant coach Juan Dixon. Dixon sat behind the Maryland bench in a second row of chairs, nattily attired in a gray suit.
"It's good to have him around and I know he's excited," said Turgeon of the recent changes that also included Dustin Clark moving into Delonte Hill's assistant's spot. Turgeon joked that the only thing he had learned about Dixon on this night was that the Terrapin great didn't know how to tie his tie very well and got considerable aid in the locker room from other assistants.
"It's great to have him around," said Smotrycz of Dixon. "He's a great source for us to go to."
The entire coaching staff was trying to right the ship when Morgan State had fought back to trail by just 12 with under seven minutes to go. Turgeon & Co., got it figured out with that defense (Maryland finished with 28 points off turnovers, had a 41-30 rebounding edge and held the Bears to 21 percent shooting from three-point range), and their top players attacking the basket again. Roddy Peters fed Wells with a bounce pass through traffic for a dunk to start the 19-2 run.
Layman followed with back-to-back 3-pointers, and Smotrycz hit one, too. When Nick Faust blew around Chiles and slammed, the Terrapins had pushed their lead to 85-60, the biggest of the game to that point.
But Maryland wasn't done. The run would reach 19 consecutive points before Morgan State scored with just 20 seconds remaining on Donte Pretlow's tough pull-up to put the final margin on the board. By that time, it was Varun Ram, Jacob Susskind, John Auslander, Jonathan Graham and Damonte Dodd applying the sticky defense.
"It was good to have a game like that," said Turegon. "We played a lot of guys and shared the minutes."
Wells finished with 12 points, five rebounds and four assists. He was 2-for-2 from 3-point range. Faust had eight points, five assists, season-high four steals and hit 4-of-7 shots.
That dominating finish was the second time this season Maryland had shutdown an opponent at the end of the game. They scored the last 29 points in the 67-44 win over Abilene Christian two weeks ago.
"Coach Turgeon wanted us to have the same intensity of defense (as at the Paradise Jam)," said Layman.
Still, the Bears sliced into a 23-point Maryland lead with an 11-2 run midway through the second half. The Terrapins were their own worst enemy, turning the ball over and missing two front ends of one-and-ones, one apiece by Smotrycz and Mitchell. Chiles hit a turnaround inside to make it 68-54 with 7:43 to play.
When Pretlow picked Wells' pocket, and drove to the hoop, it seemed like Morgan State might get even closer but Wells spanked the ball off the backboard and started a fastbreak the other way. The result was bad for the Bears, Chiles drawing his fourth foul and leaving the game for a spell.
Morgan State did get back within 12 at 5:37, when Justin Black got a three-point play on a drive to make it 72-60. That was as close as the Bears would get.
Chiles scored Morgan State's first eight points of the second half and in the process, drew four fouls, two apiece from Cleare and Mitchell. Those issues didn't discourage Maryland shooters, though. Layman hit a three and after two Chiles free throws, Smotrcyz hit one to make it 53-34 at 17:52.
Chiles scored inside but Wells hit a baseline jumper. When Black hit a 3-pointer, the Bears were within 57-41, but the Terrapins ran off the next seven points. Peters scored on a drive, Faust dunked from Smotrcyz and Layman, after blocking Chiles from behind, ran down and hit another three to make it 64-41, at 12:40.
"I think he had fresh legs," said Turgeon of Layman's performance. "He took two days off because we didn't go hard yesterday. Then guys find him on the break. Guys were making the extra pass to him. He got in a rhythm and their whole game plan was to stop penetration, and we made shots."
Peters had seven points and six assists. Mitchell had six points and 10 rebounds, and Cleare, two dunks for four points and one board in 16 minutes. Dodd came in and gave Maryland quality and much-needed minutes in the second half. He had two points and a rebound in 13 minutes as both the bigs in front of him each had four fouls.
Smotrcyz came up big on the glass, too. He has 32 rebounds the last three games. "Coach is always on me about rebounding," he said. "I want to rebound, too. My man was going to the glass and I had to keep him off."
Maryland had shot 58.6 percent in the first half to build a 45-31 lead. Showing off newfound proficiency on the offensive end, the Terps had 15 assists on their 17 field goals, and hit seven of 13 three-point attempts, including three by Layman. The 15 assists had already equaled a season high, and the Terps did it in one half.
After the Terrapins had pushed their lead to 16 at 5:14 on a Mitchell free throw, the Bears clawed their way back, Rasean Simpson draining a three and then Black turning a Smotrcyz turnover into an easy basket to cut it to 35-24 at 4:28.
Layman hit a 3-pointer but Blake Bozeman answered with a trey, Morgan State making a run with Chiles on the bench with two fouls the final seven minutes.
The Terrapins had started slowly and trailed 5-3 when Faust found his groove. He had a lob to Layman for a dunk behind Chiles to tie the score and then Wells fed him on the break for a lay-in and a 7-5 lead at 17:30, the first time the Terps went in front.
Those buckets became part of an 11-0 onslaught. Faust followed with a steal and dunk. Smotrycz fed Cleare for a dunk and then Cleare passed out of the post to Wells for an open three-pointer to make it 14-5 at 16:09.
The Bears stopped the run when Shaquille Duncan scored on a baseline drive at 15:23.
Maryland pushed the lead out to 13 points when Peters hit two free throws and then Dodd scored inside off a Peters' drive to make it 20-7 at 12:44. The Terrapins got rolling offensively, hitting seven of their first 10 shots against the Bears.
Morgan State abandoned it's man-to-man for a 2-3 zone but it still didn't slow Maryland. After a Wells' three-pointer, Mitchell jumped in front of a pass to Chiles, saved the ball in-bounds to Peters and Peters rewarded the Maryland big man, finding him in transition for layup that made it 29-15 at 8:19.
The Terps hit 17 of 29 shots in the first half, and had a 20-14 rebounding edge. Smotrycz and Layman each had 11 points.
Following the game Wednesday at Ohio State, Maryland meets George Washington Dec. 8 in the BB&T Classic at Verizon Center. A trip to Boston College to start the last season of ACC play is on Dec. 12. The next home game isn't until Dec. 14 against Florida Atlantic.
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