SMCM travels to College Park to play Terps
Seahawks pleased to be part of big stage; North Point graduate Mouton leads team with 16 points
When the St. Mary’s College of Maryland men’s basketball team headed to the Universi- ty of Maryland to face a Terrapins squad that is a perennial Big 10 and national power, the Sea- hawks primarily focused on simply getting adapted to life on a grander stage.
St. Mary’s players have grown accustomed to playing home and away games in somewhat cozy arenas, but Thursday they received a belated tutorial on the lessons of playing in the cavernous Xfinity Center at the Col- lege Park campus, where the weeknight crowd was announced at 15,779. The contest was an exhibition for the Seahawks, but a game that counted for Maryland.
In essence, that was the main purpose of the NCAA Division III Sea- hawks making the prolonged journey to face the established D-I program. Onlookers who made the trip from St. Mary’s County or adjacent coun- ties and those who simply walked from their dorms for the game, were likely not surprised that the Terps recorded a lopsided 93-45 victory.
“It was a great experi- ence for all of our guys,” said St. Mary’s 12th-year head coach Chris Har- ney, a former Seahawks player. “Of course, at first we were nervous and everyone could see that we were jittery. But I was proud of the guys for their effort. Once we settled down, we ran our sets. We’re just not used to having guys that tall that can block our shots.”
Among the SMCM players, only Tre Mouton had actually competed at the Xfinity Center before, when he was a member of the North Point High School boys basketball team that reached the Class 4A state finals. But Mouton attended Maryland games on a regular basis when his uncle, Byron Mouton, played for the Terps and was an integral part of the school’s NCAA championship team in 2001-02.
“I played three games here in high school, so I really wasn’t that intimidated,” said Tre Mouton, who led the Seahawks with 16 points. “It’s been four years since the last time I played here, but I still thought it was a great experience. We played against one of the best teams, on their floor, and we had to stay focused and confident.”
Mouton had 10 of the Seahawks’ 22 points at halftime and provided the team with two highlights in the final 15 seconds. He completed a conventional three-point play with a layup and free throw, then the North Point product ended the half by con- necting on a three-point field goal at the buzzer, much to the delight of the St. Mary’s faithful who made the trip.
Lavonte Sanders, scored five points who and added four rebounds while playing 31 min- utes, had seen numerous Maryland men’s basket- ball games as a spectator, but this contest marked his first on the floor as a player. Even with his team trailing by 54-22 at the break, Sanders liked what he and his team- mates accomplished early in the second half.
“This was a great experience,” Sanders said. “I grew up not too far from here and I watched a number of games here. But tonight was my first chance to get on the floor. The crowd wasn’t as in- timidating as I thought. It’s a big gym, but we settled down in the second half. They had a size advantage, so we had to box out as a team and not play as individuals.”
Mouton’s offensive spurt late in the first half enabled the Seahawks to depart from the locker room after the intermission with a hint of confidence.
“At halftime, I told the guys go out there and play and win every four minutes,” Harney said. “If you look at it, for the first eight minutes of the second half we actually outscored them [11-10]. That’s why I was so proud of these guys. We played a team that is bigger and immensely talented and we basically outscored them for a stretch to start the second half.”
Only four Maryland players scored in double figures, although Terps standout guard Melo Trimble (seven points in 15 minutes) was not one of them.
Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon also handled the game more like a scrimmage although the Terrapins counted the victory, going to his bench early and often. Four of his reserves logged more time on the court than any of his five starters.
“It was great being on the floor with Melo when he was out there,” Sanders said. “He’s a great player and he’ll be playing at the next level [National Basketball Association] next year. We have a lot of respect for each other. I wasn’t really intimidated by being on the floor with him. He’s a great player, but I think he knows what me and some of my teammates can do.”