With the Maryland men’s basketball leading 10 and the ball in their hands, it desperately needed a bucket to silence the renewed Rutgers crowd and prevent a second-half collapse that made it the first time. that these teams met this season.
The shot clock went off. Point guard Fatts Russell found himself near the right wing with the ball, stepped back and splattered in his fourth three of the game, a season best for Russell and a crucial basket that extended Maryland’s lead to 14, one it would never give up. .
Phenomenal shootings and a barrage of triples led Maryland to a 68-60 win over Rutgers on Tuesday, splitting the season’s streak with the Scarlet Knights and avenging the second-half collapse against Rutgers just 10 days ago.
The Terps backcourt duo of Russell and senior guard Eric Ayala led the way in their second straight win, combined for 45 points and 10 made threes.
“I thought this was one of those games where we played tip-to-horn in a very unique and difficult place to play,” said interim head coach Danny Manning.
Maryland’s game plan was clear early on: feed the mail and involve center Qudus Wahab. Wahab had Maryland’s first six points after scoring just four points the first time these two teams met.
After three consecutive games of switching the starting lineup to send a message to his stars, interim head coach Danny Manning returned to the lineup that started the first 16 games of the season.
It boded well for the Terps, who held an early 11-7 lead as they established their presence in the paint.
While Maryland’s offense wasn’t particularly efficient at first, the defense was phenomenal at limiting Rutgers to home field. The Scarlet Knights went 3-for-3 from the field to open the game, then went freezing cold, missing the next nine shots.
The Terps took advantage of Rutgers’ cold shot and exploded on an 11-0 run that was ended by a slam from Julian Reese that forced Rutgers timeout. Maryland leaned back in a 3-2 zone defense, forcing Rutgers to fire and attempt perimeter shots.
The Scarlet Knights definitely shot them. Make them though? Not so much. During the first 10 minutes, Rutgers shot 25% from the field and 17% from the field, giving Maryland a 22-9 lead.
The Terps piled up as the half progressed. A 13-point lead turned into a 15-point lead at the next media timeout, with Maryland playing its most efficient basketball of the season on both sides of the floor.
With less than six minutes left in the first half and with Wahab not shooting the ball since the opening minutes of the game, Ayala delivered an enveloping bounce pass to Wahab just below the rim, who had one more basket to go.
Just minutes later, as Rutgers tried to crawl back into the game trailing just 14, Russell nailed the transitional threes in a row to extend Maryland’s lead to 20, the biggest lead it has in a Big Ten this season. competition had. Russell finished the first half with 13 points and three threes.
But behind the energy of the home crowd, Rutgers refused to leave easily. The Scarlet Knights immediately responded with their own threes. After playing with a lid on the rim for most of the first half, Rutgers started to warm up in the closing minutes of the first half by knocking down five of his last nine shots.
While Harper starred the first time these teams hit a career-high 31 points, this time it was guard Geo Baker who kept Rutgers afloat. Baker had more than half of Rutgers’ first-half points with 14 and four made threes.
Maryland went into halftime leading 38-26. This was familiar ground for the Terps, who led 11 at halftime just 10 days ago when these teams met in College Park. After a productive first half, the only question for Maryland was whether they would be able to weather the storm or if there was another collapse ahead in the second half.
“No sugar coating,” Manning said of the halftime message. “We’ve been here before, now we need to finish better and close.”
Rutgers opened the second half energetically and crept into Terps’ lead. But Russell and Ayala’s hot shooting thwarted any hopes of a Rutgers comeback.
Both teams traded baskets back and forth, with Maryland holding onto its double-digit lead for the first 10 minutes of the second half. Maryland’s three-point explosion — with Maryland making the most threes it has had all season with 12 — allowed them to hold onto the lead.
Most of that production from outside the arc came from the Terps defenses in Ayala and Fatts. They accounted for 10 of Maryland’s 12 made threes. Maryland’s 12 threes made were the most made all season.
“We work very hard,” said Russell. “It’s finally starting to show up. We have faith in each other.”
Rutgers kept fighting, but for every blow, Maryland—Russell and Ayala in particular—had an answer. In a match that started with Maryland establishing his presence at the post, it ended with an influx of triples that Rutgers had no answer to.
Maryland advanced to 3-6 in the conference, taking back-to-back Big Ten wins for the first time this season.
Three things to know
1. Maryland featured Ron Harper Jr. When these two teams met 10 days ago, Ron Harper Jr. exploded. for a career-high 31 points, with 20 in the second half. This time, Maryland’s focus was on restraining Harper. Manning acknowledged that they were unable to stop him from scoring fully, but there were tactics they could use to give him a hard time. Hakim Hart was Harper’s primary defender and did a great job slowing him down. At halftime, he had just four points on four shots. He finished the game with 16 points on 7-of-16 shooting.
“Hakim did a really good job of being there and being a really good, nasty defender,” said Manning.
2. Maryland had its best shooting day of the season. Maryland is not a particularly good three-point shooting team, and many of its shooters have been streaky all season. But on the road to Rutgers, the Terps were on fire, led by their backcourt of Russell and Ayala. Maryland went 12-for-25 from behind the arch and his 48% was his second best of the season. Russell and Ayala both had 5 threes. Hakim Hart and Xavier Green also came in with one piece.
3. Maryland collects back-to-back Big Ten wins and a big one on the road. After starting 1-6 in conference play, Maryland improved to 3-6 in the last two games and started playing attacking basketball efficiently. This win was especially impressive because it was on the way. It’s never easy to win on the road in the Big Ten, but it’s even harder to win at Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are 19-5 in their last 24 home games. Maryland has also split the season series with every team it has played against twice this year, including Northwestern, Illinois and now Rutgers.