September 16, 2019

Maryland Basketball: In a game of runs, #3 Terps comeback to knock off the Georgetown Hoyas

It took two universities, separated just 17 miles apart, 22 years to renew a rivalry that was budding through most of the mid-20th century. Maryland is in a much different place as a program as in 1993, Gary Williams used it as a program turning game, while today Mark Turgeon was just trying to maintain their #3 ranking as the team continues to build chemistry. A great game to watch for non-fans, but a heart attack variety if you were invested, SportsCenter was hosted after a thrilling 75-71 Maryland victory that Turgeon called a “big relief”.

Hoyas came out with something to prove early, Terps take a punch in the mouth

From the opening jump ball that the Hoyas won, Georgetown dominated the first 2:08 of the game. The Hoyas scored on four of their first five possessions, while Jake Layman and Melo Trimble combined to start 0-3 from the field. Georgetown was moving the ball, while Maryland was stagnant. Mark Turgeon did not call his patented early timeout when it was 7-0, nor a nine point deficit. Such management would actually pay off for Maryland as they would grow as a team on their own.

A game of runs from both sides led to nervous fans and coaches

Maryland was an 8 to 10 point favorite against the Hoyas who had just lost at home to mid-major Radford. Everyone knew that this would probably not be an easy rout for the Terps, but the back and forth nature was unreal. After Georgetown opened with a 9-0 run before Xfinity was even full, the Terps responded with an extended 14-2 run led by the transfers Rasheed Sulaimon and Robert Carter Jr. who would combine for 10 points and 2 assists during the stretch. The Hoyas would respond with a 12-3 run of their own led by senior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera with 3 points and 4 assists. After an 8-0 run by the Terps near the end of the half, we were right back where we started tied at 33.

Just like how Georgetown started the first half, they came out during the second half wanting it more than Maryland with a 7-0 run. The Hoyas would keep Maryland at bay for the majority of the half by hitting big shots every time the Terps started to creep back into things. Then with 4:28 left in the game the 3rd ranked team in the country showed up. Maryland would end the game by scoring on ALL of their final nine possessions. Within two minutes, Maryland had gone on a 12-2 run to take their first lead in nearly 17 minutes. Finishing the game on a 21-10 extended run meant victory for the home Terps in their first of many tests of the 2015-16 season.

When things could have gotten ugly early, the Terps transfers came up large

It was former Duke Blue Devil Rasheed Sulaimon that got Maryland on the board after falling behind 9-0 to start the game. After knocking down a much needed jumper, the graduate transfer turned to his teammates on defense and made a settling motion with his hands as if to tell them to calm down. It must have worked, because Maryland never trailed by double digits after playing bad basketball early. Sulaimon finished the first half with seven points, but more importantly six assists; there is no question that Turgeon was right to say the former five-star recruit is the best passer on the team.

Robert Carter Jr.  was huge for the Terps as they did not get the production they expected from highly touted freshman Diamond Stone who got in early foul trouble before being benched for ineffectiveness. As a result, Carter was the only big on the floor at the end of the game with Jared Nickens playing extended minutes off the bench. Carter was solid in the second half, but it was his efficient 10 points on four field goal attempts that made sure Maryland was not run out of their own building while Trimble and Layman needed time to find their rhythm.

As if getting Maryland through the first half was not enough, Carter came back with a clutch jump hook after Smith-Rivera hit a game tying three for the Hoyas. Then, Sulaimon hit a three pointer from the right wing with 1:20 left to go to put Terps up for good. The “Sheed” chants will be one of many for Xfinity Center this year.

Doing what Maryland did best from last year, getting to the free throw line

(Photo by: Patrick Semansky / AP)

(Photo by: Patrick Semansky / AP)

Last year, Melo Trimble was one of the best players in the country in driving and getting to the charity stripe where he would do much of his scoring. Things were no different tonight as the Upper Marlboro native attempted an astounding 18 free throws. Trimble missed a career high five shots from the free throw line (previous high was three), but came through in the clutch with four free throws at the end of the game to put things on ice. The Terps scored over 30 percent of their points from the line (23 of 32) and did not believe John Thompson III’s insinuation that the referees were favoring Maryland because the Hoyas only had 12 attempts (there were several questionable calls against the home team).

X-Factor at Xfinity: the fans that are the “best in the world”

The student section was ROCKING in favor of Maryland even when things were not looking great early and frustrating calls from referees. By the end of it all, all of the players from Trimble and Layman to new comers Sulaimon and Carter were encouraging the fans to get even louder during crunch time. A huge lift to the Maryland fans spirits was when Terps legend Greivis Vasquez, who just lost to the Washington Wizards as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks at Verizon Center, was shown on the jumbotron with SportsCenter anchor Scott Van Pelt during a Maryland timeout with 5:41 left in the game. The crowd went bananas to see their beloved Duke killer and it carrier over to Maryland closing out the game in the clutch.

Turgeon has announced his love for the Maryland fans since last year, they “were absolutely phenomenal…we had no chance without ‘em”. Even Rasheed Sulaimon said post game, “now that I’m on this side I can officially say it: [Maryland] fans are the best in the world”. This was just a taste of what the third ranked team in the nation can expect all year as they look to a promising season.

Maryland will have one more home game against Rider on Friday before participating in the Cancun Challenge in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Their next big test against non-mid major programs comes on December 1 when they have to travel to Chapel Hill and take on North Carolina. For now there is still room for improvement while adjusting to life without Dion Wiley who was “missed” according to Turgeon.

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.

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