December 10, 2019

Maryland Basketball: Terps enjoy keeping it close, but hold on in the clutch again to get past Illinois State

The No. 2 Maryland Terrapins took off for Mexico not just to play basketball but to have a team bonding week for everyone to loosen up, according to Mark Turgeon after the Rider game. After a couple of days enjoying the Cancun scene, the Terps were brought back to focus with their matchup against the Illinois State Redbirds. Maryland put their fans on the edge of their seats again, but used a late run once again to breakaway from Illinois State and win 77-66. Here are five things you need to know:

Terps finally get off to fast start, but let Redbirds back in

Against both Georgetown and Rider, Maryland has failed to get off to a strong start. Things were different Tuesday as the Terps started the game on a 10-2 run, fueled by transfers Rasheed Sulaimon and Robert Carter Jr.

Unfortunately, Maryland gave up a 20-7 run to the Redbirds, who were playing aggressive defense to force eight turnovers in the first half. Illinois State was pressing Melo Trimble and doubling Sulaimon to get the ball out of his hands. This led to transition opportunities that had the Terps defense out of sorts, allowing 4 of 5 shooting from beyond the arc for Paris Lee and Deontae Hawkins to start the game.

Foul trouble for Maryland centers

Coming off his best game in his young Maryland career, Diamond Stone played less than three minutes before picking up his second foul of the game. Turgeon discussed earlier in the year having to gain the trust of the freshman to put him back in the game knowing that he will not pick up a third. That trust seemingly has not come yet as Stone sat for nearly 17 minutes before making a brief appearance at the end of the half when Maryland was on offense.

Turgeon turned to his other bigs — Damonte Dodd and Michal Cekovsky — but neither are the offensive presence that Stone is, even at his precocious age. The duo combined for a single point, but did help alter shots on the defensive end. When Dodd picked up his second foul at the 5:01 mark and Cekovsky at 3:11, Maryland went to a small-ball lineup with Carter at the 5 and Layman reverting to a familiar role of last year of stretch-4.

Terps struggles from beyond the arc as the rim is unkind in Mexico

To say the Terps were cold from beyond the arc is a huge understatement. They finished the first half a miserable 2 of 13 from beyond the arc. That did not get any better after intermission, as Maryland started the second 0 of 5 from deep. The shots were not all bad looks and a handful were halfway down before somehow popping back out. The Terps offense is beautiful to watch when the three-ball is falling. Not so much when Jake Layman and Jared Nickens combine to start 1 of 9 from outside. Luckily for Maryland, the hoop finally opened from downtown when they needed it most.

Career night for Damonte Dodd

(Photo by: @TheRturnOf35)

(Photo by: @TheRturnOf35)

Dodd was really raw his freshman year at Maryland and still not offensively polished last year. Even though considered the third-best scoring center on the team, Dodd took advantage of his opportunity (especially on dunk attempts). Twice on pocket passes from Trimble — and two more times from Carter on alley-oop passes to break the zone — Dodd rattled the rim. The Centreville, Maryland native finished the game with a career-high 13 points, and also chipped in with three rebounds and three blocks.

Closing it out during crunch time — again

How could one not be nervous when the Terps were trailing with under six minutes to go in the game for the third straight game? The offense came alive when Melo Trimble broke down the defense and found Nickens and Sulaimon for back-to-back threes to double the Terps production from beyond the arc. A possession after working hard on the offensive board to draw a foul, Layman knocked down a dagger 3, his first of the game. After some made free throws to cap off a 19-7 run, Maryland moved to 4-0 with a 77-66 victory.

Maryland now has the right to face Rhode Island on Wednesday, who knocked off TCU in another tourney opener.

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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  1. […] coming back to defeat the Illinois State Redbirds Tuesday night, the Maryland Terrapins took on the Atlantic 10 contending Rhode Island Rams for the […]

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