Loyola guard Andrew Kostecka finally came down with the rebound and threw his elbows out wide to ward off the Maryland men’s basketball players vying for a fourth chance to score an early basket.
With 14 minutes remaining in the first half, Anthony Cowan had driven the lane but missed at the rim. Aaron Wiggins then missed a jumper before Jalen Smith missed a putback attempt — a sequence symbolic of the listless offensive performance on display during the first 10 minutes of Tuesday’s contest.
But with consecutive 3-pointers from Serrel Smith and Anthony Cowan shortly after, the Terps began pulling away from the Greyhounds, establishing their first double-digit lead and building on it to end the first half with an 18-point edge.
After Maryland posted a season-low 55 points in a win over Loyola-Chicago on Saturday, the team shook off its beleaguered offensive output at the onset to handily beat Loyola Maryland, 94-71.
“Ten years ago, this would’ve killed me, a game like this,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “It’s been a really tough stretch. … We had a lot of really good things. Six guys in double figures, outrebounded them by 14, shot well from the foul line and we only had eight turnovers.”
No Morsell, no problem
After being limited to 12 minutes against the Ramblers due to twisting his ankle pregame, guard Darryl Morsell was in street clothes Tuesday. Turgeon said Monday the sophomore would be a game-time decision against Loyola, but against an outmatched team at home, there wasn’t much sense in playing Morsell.
In Morsell’s place, Wiggins returned to the starting lineup. But it was Serrel Smith who made the biggest impact on offense for the Terps in the first half.
He and Ricky Lindo were the first two off the bench for Maryland, and after an early turnover, Smith nailed his first 3-pointer from the left side of the court before adding a second trey minutes later. He finished the first half with 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting.
“Just really moving and finding open spots,” Smith said. “We got great point guards, and they just feed me the ball, and I just knock down shots.”
Earlier this year, Turgeon relied primarily on his top-six players for the bulk of minutes and points. With a young team, he has searched for reliable bench options to offer production — not only rest — in place of his starters.
But as the schedule turned more favorable with the pair of Loyolas, he allowed Lindo and Smith to play more minutes, and they finished with a combined 14 points and five rebounds.
“I wish the second half would’ve started better so [Smith] could’ve played more,” Turgeon said. “He could’ve had 16 or 18 points tonight.”
Jalen Smith bounces back
After an early foul forced him off the floor at Royal Farms Arena on Saturday, Jalen Smith featured for just four minutes in the opening period against Loyola-Chicago.
But Tuesday, as Eric Ayala sprinted down the floor with about seven minutes remaining, the guard threw an underhand flip to the trailing Smith, who threw down a dunk. Smith rebounded from his poor performance against Loyola-Chicago — in which he scored one point in 12 minutes — to post 20 points in a dominant showing more akin to what he’s shown for most of his freshman season.
“Me and Eric got a great connection,” Smith said. “As freshmen, we learn more about each other and how each other plays and pretty much everywhere I’m going, he’s looking for me. And whenever I see him open, I’m looking for him.”
After limited playing time Saturday, Turgeon left Bruno Fernando and Smith in for extended periods Tuesday. Maryland’s starting frontcourt ended with a combined 31 points and 13 rebounds.
Hot 3-point shooting
Early this season, Turgeon said he wasn’t worried about his team’s ability from beyond the arc, confident that sooner rather than later his shooters would find their stroke.
Through the first 10 games this year, that touch hasn’t always been present. The Terps shot 24 percent from three against Penn State, 17 percent in the first half against Virginia and 10 percent in their season opener against Delaware.
“I get mad when we miss them,” Turgeon said. “I see the guys every day shoot it.”
But as Loyola narrowed the score line midway through the second half, three triples within 2:07 of each other from Cowan and Wiggins helped spark a 22-3 run to push the Terps out of reach.
Cowan nailed the first trey after an offensive rebound, and right after Loyola’s Chuck Champion nailed a three of his own, Wiggins converted from the corner. Then, Cowan hit a transition three.
“We defended well, and it got us in the transition,” Cowan said. “And then we finally found each other for threes.”
Cowan scored 23 points on 6-for-12 shooting, including 4-for-4 from distance.
Maryland finished shooting 52 percent (11-for-24) on 3-pointers, putting a slow offensive start behind them with a powerful second-half performance.
“Guys are starting to figure out their roles,” Cowan said. “Our spacing’s been really good the past couple games.”