Coach Kevin Willard had a message for Donta Scott ahead of the second half of Maryland men’s basketball’s matchup against Indiana.
“He didn’t think I was being too physical,” Scott said.
Willard saw Scott being pushed around in the back multiple times in the first half and implored the forward to stay aggressive in the second.
Scott took his coach’s advice to heart and scored eight of the Terps’ last 12 points of the game against No. 21 Indiana Tuesday to help clinch Maryland’s third win over a ranked team this season.
“I just decided that I had to go out there and try to be physical, more physical than I was being,” Scott said.
Scott started his late run by pump faking from behind the arc before putting the ball on the floor, forcing Indiana’s Malik Reneau to foul out of the game. He notched a steal on the next defensive possession and had the ball in his hands as the final seconds of the Terps’ next offensive possession ticked down.
The senior rose up over his defender and dropped his hookshot jumper through the net with two minutes to go before he attacked an equally sized Race Thompson again a minute later, faking the same hookshot before stepping through for a simple layup.
Scott collected the ball and drove to the basket, spinning Thompson around with a crossover in the process but leaving his close-range jumper just short. He collected his own miss before dropping the putback through the net, once again reaping the rewards for his aggressive play inside.
The forward dropped a team-high 10 second-half points and made three of Maryland’s last four field goals. His 19 points were the most he’s scored since his back-to-back 25-point and 24-point performances in the 2022 Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off against Saint Louis and Miami, respectively.
The senior still shot well below his season average despite his hot streak down the stretch. He went 2-for-9 from the field in the first half and finished the game 6-for-18 on field goals and 1-for-7 from three despite getting open looks throughout the game.
Despite the victory, Maryland notched its third worst shooting percentage of the year as a team at 34 percent.
“[Scott’s] shot is gonna come around. I know it is,” coach Kevin Willard said. “He got some great looks tonight, but I think he’s back to slowing down a little bit. I think he’s enjoying the physicality … I think being at home has helped him, he’s practiced great, he’s gotten in a good rhythm.”
The Terps made up for their poor shooting with their performance at the free throw line. Scott made all six of his foul shots, while Maryland notched its fourth most free throw attempts of the season at 29 and third best free throw percentage of the year, making 86.2 percent of its attempts.
“We know if we try to shy away from the contact, then we’re most likely not gonna get the foul,” Scott said. “We knew they were gonna be a physical team, bump us and stuff like that, we just try to play through the bumps and let the referees make the decisions from there.”
Scott and the Terps will hope to translate the momentum generated from three straight home victories to their first conference away win of the season Saturday at Minnesota, who are rooted to the bottom of the Big Ten standings.