The Maryland Terrapins were able to overcome the Lafayette Leopards and their dangerous perimeter game, winning their third straight game since losing the regular season opener to the defending national champions, the Kentucky Wildcats.
The Terrapins never trailed against the Leopards but the game was close with Lafayette shooting 15-32 from three-point territory. The Terps out-rebounded the Leopards 43-23, giving them a huge advantage with the inside game. Maryland sophomore center Alex Len scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds and sophomore guard Nick Faust scored 13 points and also had eight boards. Senior forward James Padgett added 14 points and four rebounds for the Terps and sophomore forward Dez Wells had 11 points and six rebounds. Freshman forward Charles Mitchell had 12 points and five rebounds for the Terrapins off the bench.
“This is a process for us, we have a lot of young players,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said. “I thought Nick played with poise. He isn't allowed to act like a sophomore he has to act older than that. It was by far I think his best game.”
“They are a great shooting team and I felt as though we contested most of [their shots], but they got some open [3 point shots],” Faust said. “We'll just get better in practice and get better at defense. There aren't too many good shooting teams like them in the country, so we'll be fine.”
Maryland jumped out to a quick 20-12 lead, but the Leopards went on a 9-2 scoring run with three three-pointers to cut Maryland's lead to 22-21. Maryland answered by scoring seven straight points but Lafayette's Bryce Scott hit a three pointer and converted a three-point play to pull the score back within one. The Terrapins would pull away again with an 11-3 run, going into the half with a 40-30 lead.
The Terps went on a 14-5 run to open the first half and the Terps would not find themselves in danger for the rest of the night. The Terps had a nine point lead before Faust started an 11-2 run to give Maryland a 69-52 lead with under five and a half minutes to play.
“There was a lot of fight in them throughout the game,” Turgeon said. “The only thing I was disappointed in was in the second half we turned it over too much and didn't rebound. That got a little old for me. Besides that we couldn't make a jump shot and missed a lot of free throws and still got 83 points. We are doing something right out there sharing the ball, and just playing our defense in the second half.”
The Maryland Terrapins not only dominated the boards but also had their way inside the paint when scoring. The Terps scored 50 of their points inside the paint.
“We are a lot better than we were two weeks ago,” Turgeon said “We have some holes. Tonight it was jump shooting, free throws and rebounding. We don't box out the way I want my team to box out. I think defensively we made huge strides, even though they made 15 threes I know it sounds crazy, they did shoot 39 percent. There were some unbelievable defensive possessions out there. I think we have gotten better there. Our offense is where ahead of where it was any time last year. We are getting there. It is going to be like that for us. I liked there energy tonight. I thought at times we played really well it was just that one substitution that hurt us and I learned a little bit about myself and how I have to coach this team going forward.”
“I see progress with each game,” Mitchell said. “We all get better. We're passing the ball, sharing the ball with each other - just being helpful with all our teammates. We're just helping each other on the court, [we're] better defensively. This was probably the best game, shooting the ball.”
With the win, Maryland rises to 3-1 on the season. Lafayette drops to 1-4 overall.
The Terps will stay at home in the Comcast Center to face Georgia Southern on Saturday at 7 p.m. in College Park, Md. The game will be the last home game before Maryland travels to Northwestern for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge next Tuesday.