Terps play ‘com­plete game’

UM comes through in all phases to win Or­lando In­vi­ta­tional

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Don Markus

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. — The team Mary­land men’s bas­ket­ball coach Mark Tur­geon talked about through­out the pre­sea­son — one that shared the ball, ex­e­cuted in its half-court of­fense when needed to and de­fended with a tough­ness rarely seen from most of its re­cent pre­de­ces­sors — fi­nally showed up for the 2019-20 season Sun­day in the cham­pi­onship game of the Or­lando In­vi­ta­tional.

Play­ing against Mar­quette and se­nior guard Markus Howard, the nation’s lead­ing scorer com­ing off a 51-point per­for­mance against South­ern Cal­i­for­nia at the HP Field House, the No. 5 Terps played up to their rank­ing in an im­pres­sive 84-63 vic­tory that was vir­tu­ally over late in the first half.

It was as much re­lief as it was val­i­da­tion for Tur­geon.

“I was wait­ing for that,” Tur­geon said af­ter the game. “More of a com­plete game out of us.”

While se­nior guard An­thony Cowan Jr. was named the tour­na­ment’s Most Valu­able Player af­ter scor­ing a team-high 22 points to go along with six re­bounds, four as­sists and three steals Sun­day, ju­nior guard Dar­ryl Morsell had the most im­pact on the game it­self, bot­tling up Howard at one end and scor­ing 17 points at the other. Morsell also pulled down 10 re­bounds and had three as­sists with no turnovers.

Howard, who also put up 40 points in the tour­na­ment opener against David­son, was lim­ited to just six points. The 5-foot-11 guard missed11of­12 shots, in­clud­ing all six 3-point at­tempts. It was only the third time in his ca­reer that the reign­ing Big East Player of the Year failed to hit a 3-pointer when at­tempt­ing at least one.

“Even to the end, Dar­ryl guarded Howard with 40 sec­onds to go, wouldn’t let him catch the ball,” Tur­geon said. “Dar­ryl set the tone, he did a great job. But a lot of guys did a

Big Ten/ACC Chal­lenge good job of guard­ing that kid. Aaron Wig­gins was ter­rific on him, An­thony Cowan was ter­rific on him, Donta Scott was ter­rific when he switched on him, and our ball screen de­fense was re­ally, re­ally good the whole game.”

Said Morsell: “I knew what he was he ca­pa­ble of in his other two out­ings in the tour­na­ment. I just tried to make it tough for him, con­test ev­ery shot, just try to use my size [at 6-5] and my lever­age, just try to get phys­i­cal with him. We were switch­ing screens. It was ev­ery­body. Ev­ery­body was locked in, di­aled into the game plan.

“I know if I bring it de­fen­sively, we get out and run. I was just fo­cused on mak­ing it hard for them.”

So was his former Mount Saint Joseph team­mate. De­spite fin­ish­ing with just eight points — ty­ing his low­est out­put of the season — sopho­more for­ward Jalen Smith blocked Mar­quette big man Theo John twice in the first two min­utes of the game and three times in the first half, send­ing a mes­sage to the Golden Ea­gles that they would have to win the game from the out­side.

“You’ve got to give credit to ‘Stix’ and the twins,” Tur­geon said of Smith and the Mitchell twins. “And I think he [Howard] got tired. Three games in four days is tough for the things he has to do.”

Sopho­more for­ward Bren­dan Bai­ley, who led Mar­quette (5-2) with a ca­reer-high 27 points, said it was dif­fi­cult to have a chance with Howard be­ing lim­ited.

“Markus is a huge part of our team as ev­ery­one in the world knows,” Bai­ley said. “So we need him to win. It’s a team game, we need ev­ery­body, and he’s a key piece to our team. They came out and played a de­fense on Markus that we haven’t re­ally seen that yet.”

Said Mar­quette

coach

Steve

Wo­j­ciechowski, who grew up in Sev­erna Park: “Markus has seen pretty much ev­ery kind of de­fense. But our group, be­cause it’s a new group, hasn’t nec­es­sar­ily seen that. I don’t think all around we han­dled it up to the level we needed to be ca­pa­ble of.”

The vic­tory gave Mary­land its first 8-0 start since the 2006-07 season. It was the first in-season tour­na­ment the Terps have won since 2016-17, when they got off to a school-record 20-2 start and, as Tur­geon pointed out, their sixth in-season tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship in seven tries. The lone ex­cep­tion came three sea­sons ago, when they lost to St. Bonaventur­e in the open­ing game of a two-game tour­na­ment in Niceville, Florida.

Un­like the first two games in this tour­na­ment, when Mary­land needed to come back from slow and sloppy starts against both Tem­ple and Har­vard be­fore se­cur­ing a pair of seven-point wins, the Terps came out fast and fo­cused. With Tur­geon in­sert­ing sopho­more point guard Eric Ayala back in the start­ing lineup for the first time since the season opener, Mary­land went on a 12-0 run to break an 11-11 tie.

“I thought we got stops early, and that al­lowed us to run a lit­tle bit,” Cowan said. “That re­ally car­ried us through the whole game. We got con­sec­u­tive stops and we saw the ball go through the bas­ket a lit­tle bit. I think that re­ally jump-started us a lit­tle bit.”

When Cowan buried a straight­away 3-pointer from about 25 feet with seven sec­onds left in the half and the shot clock about to ex­pire, Mary­land’s lead was 42-21 and its col­lec­tive con­fi­dence was higher than it had been at any point this season. The Terps had trailed at half­time of their pre­vi­ous two games here, and had not led by more than 14 points in any of their pre­vi­ous games at home against lesser com­pe­ti­tion.

Even in the se­cond half, when Mar­quette cut a 46-21 lead to 52-39, Cowan wouldn’t let his team fal­ter. A 3-point shot, also with the shot clock tick­ing down, si­lenced the Golden Ea­gles and their noisy fans. Cowan then stole the ball from Howard and fed Scott for a dunk.

“I think we knew they [were] go­ing to make a run at some point,” Cowan said. “I think that re­ally slowed it down a lit­tle bit.”

SCOTT AUDETTE/AP

Mary­land’s Jalen Smith (25) drives past Mar­quette’s Bren­dan Bai­ley in the first half of Sun­day’s vic­tory to win the Or­lando In­vi­ta­tional.

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