Maryland men’s basketball returned home after a three-game losing streak and its first 1-3 start since 2000, seeking a solution to offensive issues that limited it to its lowest point total in 41 years in its last game.
The Terps shattered that total in the first half of Tuesday’s contest. An efficient Maryland scored 57 points in the opening 20 minutes and cruised to a 92-68 win over UMBC at Xfinity Center.
Coach Kevin Willard’s team recorded its third-highest point total in his tenure and by far its highest of the season in the much-needed victory.
“When you get a couple easy buckets early, it just gives you a little more confidence and you’re able to kind of wear them down a little bit,” Willard said. “We did a good job in the first half, kind of really just getting them on their heels. It was good to see the ball go in early to be honest.”
After an even start in which the Terps’ shooting struggles persisted, their stout defense and seven consecutive made field goals helped them open up a massive first-half advantage.
Maryland (2-3) held UMBC to only two field goals in the final 12 minutes of the opening half, going on a 36-8 run in that span to enter halftime up 33. The Terps punctuated the explosion with a Jamie Kaiser Jr. half-court buzzer-beater that gave them their most first-half points since 2010.
Julian Reese got ample opportunities in the post and finished the opening half with 11 points and seven rebounds. The junior recorded his second double-double of the season, notching 15 points and 13 rebounds against the Retrievers.
Guards Jahmir Young and DeShawn Harris-Smith repeatedly attacked the basket. They recorded a majority of their points at the rim or the free-throw line and finished the first half with 14 and eight points, respectively. Six Terps at least seven points in the opening 20 minutes.
Maryland also belied its early-season struggles from deep. The Terps entered Tuesday’s game as the 350th worst three-point shooting team in the country, per KenPom, making just 21.6 percent of their attempts from deep — the second-worst mark of all power-conference teams.
But Willard’s squad shot 41.7 percent from three-point range in the opening 20 minutes.
Donta Scott and Young drained the Terps’ first two threes, but Maryland missed its next six long-range attempts. Scott broke the streak with his second of the night before Jordan Geronimo made his first three-pointer as a Terp — he was previously 0-for-6. Then came Kaiser Jr.’s half-court heave at the buzzer.
Maryland missed eight consecutive three-point attempts to start the second half until a late make from Noah Batchelor with 26 seconds remaining. It finished Tuesday’s contest shooting just 28.6 percent from deep — somehow, still a season-high.
The Terps still maintained their advantage over the Retrievers (3-3) throughout a second half where Willard played a variety of different lineups. All 11 of Maryland’s active scholarship players and both walk-ons took the floor — freshman Braden Pierce and transfer Chance Stephens were ruled out with injuries.
“Getting our bench guys extended minutes is huge because it gives them a chance to play without extreme pressure,” Willard said. “It’s really hard when you’re a freshman, or you’re a guy who hasn’t played a lot of minutes before and you’re a sophomore, to have to now come in and play, and play at a high level when you haven’t done it a whole lot.”
Ten players registered at least 10 minutes and freshman Jahnathan Lamothe, transfer Mady Traoré and walk-on Ben Murphy scored their first points as Terps.
Four players scored in double figures, while Young and Scott recorded season highs with 20 and 14. The latter went 6-for-11 from the field in his best shooting performance of the season as Maryland snapped its losing streak and got back on track with one of its best offensive performances under Willard.
“It’s big for our routine and just getting back home in front of our fans was great,” Young said. “… Being able to come back and get our swag back was important for us.”