Don Carey sank back-to-back threes before Patrick Emilien got just his second make from behind the arc this season to fall at the beginning of the second half, a sign that the Terps’ efficient shooting would continue into the latter frame.
Maryland (19-9, 10-7 Big Ten) notched its sixth-highest field goal percentage in program history to sweep its season series against conference bottom-feeders Minnesota (7-19, 1-15 Big Ten) in simple fashion on Wednesday at Xfinity Center, 88-70.
Coach Kevin Willard’s squad shot 68.1 percent from the field — just short of Maryland’s highest-ever mark at Xfinity Center and its second-best mark since 1986 — and 53.8 percent from deep.
“Just kind of dominating the post and then Jahmir [Young] and them, they finished from the arc,” Donta Scott said. “We had a couple of lucky bounces, but that’s what you can get when you have home-court advantage.”
The Terps jumped above a six-team tie for fourth in the Big Ten and into joint-third place with the victory, but have played a game more than every team sitting at 9-7 in conference play.
Maryland didn’t have to contend with Minnesota’s top scorer, forward Dawson Garcia, when it traveled to Minneapolis on Feb. 4.
A lethargic Golden Gophers offense that finished with just 46 points in that matchup got off to a much better start on Tuesday, powered by Garcia. The sophomore made his presence known early with a short jumper and a three-pointer inside the first five minutes of the game.
Garcia finished the first frame with a team-high 13 points, accounting for about 43 percent of the Golden Gophers’ 30 points in the first half. He added just two second-half points.
Five turnovers through the opening 10 minutes got Maryland off to a slow start as it traded the lead back and forth with Minnesota. The Terps didn’t notch a single giveaway after the midway point of the half and efficient shooting got them out to a large lead.
A 15-0 Maryland run was powered by the Terps making six of seven consecutive field attempts, including three-pointers from Scott and Hakim Hart. Willard’s squad’s hot streak stretched to 11 makes on 12 attempts, helping the Terps to a 73.1 percent field goal percentage and 80 percent three-point percentage at halftime.
Maryland’s defense stunted Garcia and Minnesota’s early success and allowed just 11 points in the last 11 minutes of the half, taking a 47-30 advantage into the break. The Terps scored their most points in an opening half since Nov. 25, 2022, against Coppin State — tied for their second-highest mark of the year.
Carey’s back-to-back threes followed by Emilien’s second three-pointer of the year continued Maryland’s efficient shooting into the second half.
The duo’s three-pointers and three scores in the paint from Julian Reese made up another extended run of six made shots for the Terps. Reese finished with a game-high 21 points on 9-for-11 shooting from the field and added 12 rebounds.
All of Maryland’s starters scored in double digits with Hart and Scott contributing 20 and 18 points, respectively. Hart added six assists and four steals in Maryland’s 10th conference victory of the year.
“Every guy on this team is capable of stepping up to the plate and doing whatever we need,” Scott said. “Tonight, a lot of guys made shots.”
The Terps extended Minnesota’s losing skid to 11 games while extending their own unbeaten streak at home against Big Ten opponents with its efficient shooting, advancing to 15-1 at home on the season.
“It’s late February, it’s our 10th [Big Ten] win, it’s third place [in the conference], you don’t want to have a bad loss this time of year when people are talking about it,” Willard said. “We showed that we just go out and handle business.”