Terps get by messy first half

Mary­land had 14 turnovers in the open­ing 20 min­utes

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - SPORTS - By Don Markus

COL­LEGE PARK — The No. 7 Mary­land men’s bas­ket­ball team over­came a messy start Satur­day night against Rhode Is­land, turn­ing the ball over 10 times in the first 10 min­utes and 14 times in the first half while fall­ing be­hind by 12 points.

Still, the Terps some­how took a three­p­oint half­time lead and went on to a 73-55 vic­tory over the Rams at Xfin­ity Cen­ter.

Sopho­more for­ward Jalen Smith (Mount Saint Joseph) had his sec­ond straight dou­ble dou­ble to start the sea­son, lead­ing Mary­land with 19 points, in­clud­ing 13 in the sec­ond half, and 11 re­bounds. Sopho­more wing Aaron Wig­gins had his first ca­reer dou­ble dou­ble with 13 points and 13 re­bounds.

Sopho­more guard Eric Ayala came off the bench to help spark his team’s late first-half come­back and took over at the point for most of the sec­ond half to fin­ish with 13 points. After go­ing score­less in the first half, se­nior guard An­thony Cowan Jr. fin­ished with 14 points and five as­sists.

Try­ing to avoid its first loss as a top-10 team to an un­ranked non­con­fer­ence foe since los­ing to Ari­zona in the 2001-02 sea­son opener — the year the Terps went on to win their only na­tional cham­pi­onship — Mary­land (2-0) used its 3-2 zone de­fense to get back in the game and a solid man-toman to break it open in the sec­ond half.

Trail­ing 28-20 late in the first half, the Terps went on a 10-0 run to take their first lead of the game at 30-28 with 1:19 left on a 3-pointer by fresh­man for­ward Donta Scott. Mary­land led at half­time, 35-32, on the first 3-pointer of the sea­son by Wig­gins, who had missed his first seven tries.

Mary­land clamped down de­fen­sively on the Rams in the sec­ond half and stopped turn­ing the ball over. After Rhode Is­land tied the game at 35 on it’s first pos­ses­sion of the half, a 3-point play by Ayala gave the Terps the lead for good. Mary­land com­mit­ted just two turnovers in the sec­ond half.

A 3-point play by Wig­gins with 7:30 re­main­ing gave Mary­land a 59-45 lead.

Se­nior guard Jeff Dowtin, who teamed with Cowan in the back­court at St. John’s High and helped the Cadets win a Washington Catholic Ath­letic Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship over DeMatha and fu­ture No. 1 NBA draft pick Markelle Fultz, led Rhode Is­land (1-1) with 14 points.

In­stant anal­y­sis

After spend­ing much of the pre­sea­son play­ing faster, Mary­land still had trou­ble in the first half play­ing slow in a half-court of­fense. Many of the 14 first-half turnovers were the re­sult of too many play­ers try­ing to go one-on-one. Coach Mark Tur­geon will now have a solid week of prac­tice to cor­rect that, with Mary­land’s next game not un­til next Satur­day against Oak­land.

JULIO CORTEZ/AP

Mary­land guard Eric Ayala re­acts after scor­ing a bas­ket against Rhode Is­land on Satur­day in Col­lege Park.

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