August 8, 2020

Maryland Basketball: No. 2 Terps finally live up to the hype, dominate Rhode Island to win Cancun Challenge

(Photo by: Terrapin Hoops)

(Photo by: Terrapin Hoops)

After coming back to defeat the Illinois State Redbirds Tuesday night, the Maryland Terrapins took on Atlantic 10 contenders Rhode Island in the Cancun Challenge Championship game. For the first time this year, Maryland — sporting awesome gold rush-equse uniforms — dominated the opponent and looked like the second best team in the country. The Terps will return to College Park for Thanksgiving with the satisfying feeling of having won their third consecutive holiday tournament after a 86-63 victory.

For the second straight game Terps get off to a hot start, this time maintain it

Maryland got into trouble early against both Georgetown and Rider, but have turned that trend around in Mexico. The Terps shot the ball with confidence to start the game a whopping 8 of 13 from the field and 3 of 4 from beyond the arc. It was not until late in the second half before Maryland had their third 3-pointer against the Redbirds on Tuesday. This helped the Terrapins get off to a 19-7 start and diminish the hopes of the Rams. Maryland extended its run to a whopping 33-13, fueled by nine Rams first half turnovers. It is beautiful basketball by the Terps when they are able to get out and run, which resulted in a 12-0 run.

Where would Maryland be without their transfers?

Rasheed Sulaimon and Robert Carter Jr. are absolute ballers in case you missed it. Not only have they turned into veteran leaders in the locker room and in the huddle, but they have put their money where their mouth is and showed up in a big way. Sulaimon is not only a great passer, but a great shooter from beyond the arc. Carter has the body to dominate anybody in the post via strength, quickness — or sometimes both. Sulaimon would finish an excellent 6 of 7 from the field including four 3s for 17 points to complement four assists and two rebounds. On the other hand, Carter went 6 of 9 from the field for 15 points to go along nine boards, three dimes, a steal, and three blocks.

Melo Trimble looks to have decompressed on the beach to play looser basketball

(Photo by: Baltimore Sun)

(Photo by: Baltimore Sun)

For the first time this year, Melo Trimble was not pressing — and that was a great thing for Mark Turgeon‘s team. Trimble even flashed his patented smile at times. You just know that things are going well when that makes an appearance. The Upper Marlboro native quickly forgot an early turnover to have his most complete game this season. Trimble finished perfect from the field on all seven of his field goal attempts to drop 17 points to go along with his four assists, six rebounds, and three steals.

Comparison of depth lets you understand the domination

When Rhode Island lost potential first round NBA draft pick E.C. Matthews, its scoring offense was not the only thing to take a hit. Now the Rams are forced to play with just nine scholarship players, of which only six are trusted to play. Kuran Iverson and Earl Watson had solid nights, but when you only have one field goal from another teammate 29 minutes into the game, you have issues.

On the complete other spectrum of things, Mark Turgeon has the luxury to be more or less two deep at every position; even after the unfortunate injury to Dion Wiley. The great thing when up so much late in the game, is that Turgeon has the guys on the bench that he trusts enough to give rest to workhorses like Trimble and Sulaimon. Moreover, when Maryland bigs got into foul trouble, Carter, Stone, Dodd, and Cekovsky all “committed” (some questionable) at least four fouls, Turgeon was able to easily rotate them in and out to maintain a size dominance inside.

Defense wins championships, and Maryland looks to have great potential

The Terps offense was jumpstarted by their transition game, which was a bigger presence because of Maryland forcing turnovers and missed shots on the other end of the court. After having a season high nine blocks Tuesday, Maryland came out with an encore with nine more against the Rams. That production comes with limited playing time for Diamond Stone and Damonte Dodd, while many more shots were altered by the Terps length. Maryland also capitalized in transition with eight steals. Overall, Maryland held the Rams, not named Iverson or Watson, to a miserable 3 of 27 shooting performance to start the game.

Maryland will return to College Park with a Saturday night matchup against Cleveland State before the HIGHLY anticipated matchup with North Carolina on Tuesday, Dec. 1st in Marcus Paige’s expected season debut.

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.


  1. […] the final game of the Cancun Challenge, although already declared the champions after a dominant game over Rhode Island, the Maryland Terrapins had another test against mid-major Cleveland State out of the Horizon […]

  2. […] the final game of the Cancun Challenge, although already declared the champions after a dominant game over Rhode Island, the Maryland Terrapins had another test against mid-major Cleveland State out of the Horizon […]

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