With offensive inefficiency becoming a startling trend in College Park, the Maryland men’s basketball team needed to put forth a performance like the one it did Tuesday night against Boston College.
Alex Len, pictured here against Virginia Tech, recorded his fifth double-double of the season Tuesday against Boston College.
Shooting 42 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3-point range, Maryland topped Boston College, 64-59, in front of 13,941 fans inside Comcast Center. It was the first time Maryland has crossed the 60-point plateau in two weeks.
The Terps’ offense still wasn’t clicking on all cylinders – there were still missed open shots and issues getting the ball inside – but it was much improved over their previous four games dating back to the second half against Florida State on Jan. 9.
“Our guys believe in defense. Pretty soon we’re going to start believing in our offense,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “Sixty-four [points] tonight, 42 percent [shooting]. It feels like 80 percent compared to the way we’ve been shooting.
“We’re still in the search. I’ll say that in March. I’ll say that 18 years from now. That’s a line I use. You guys will get used to it. Tonight, we figured out how to win … We’ll keep trying to figure it out and be more complete.”
Boston College forward Ryan Anderson led all scorers with 19 points, while guard Oliver Hanlan scored 18. Alex Len led the way for Maryland, with 16 points and 13 rebounds, tying a career high. Jake Layman, earning his third career start, scored 15 points and grabbed five rebounds, while Dezmine Wells dished out eight assists to go with his five points.
“We’re still feeling different lineups out and different stuff. It’s still a process for us, but we’re getting there,” Layman said. “We knew we had to really focus on offense tonight because we know our defense. Our offense was our main focus. I think we executed better.”
In the first half, the Terps jumped out to an early 7-2 lead as Boston College struggled to find any rhythm on offense. The Eagles started the game shooting 1-for-8 from the field and 0-for-4 from 3-point range before the first media timeout.
But Boston College was quick to bounce back. After missing their first eight attempts from beyond the arc, the Eagles hit five straight 3-pointers to take their first lead of the game at 26-24 with 2:50 left in the opening frame.
The Eagles extended their lead to five, but a finish inside from Len and a 3-pointer from Seth Allen, who also blocked a last-second shot from the Eagles, tied the game at 29 heading into halftime.
In the second half, the Terps started to ramp things up on offense, shooting 48 percent from the field.
After a back-and-forth start, Maryland went on a 12-0 run to extend its lead to 52-44 with 8:13 left in regulation. The 12-point stretch was all the Terps needed, as they held off Boston College’s comeback attempt and escaped with the five-point win.
“Our offense, it’s no secret it’s been struggling,” guard Logan Aronhalt said. “Tonight, it wasn’t great, but it was better. We made some shots, which was really encouraging.”
With the win, the Terps improved to 15-4 and 3-3 in the ACC, moving to within two victories of tying last season’s win total. Boston College, meanwhile, fell to 9-9 and 1-4.
More importantly, though, the Terps started to shake off some of their recent struggles on offense. And – for now at least – it’s not something that defines them.
But it remains clear that things won’t come easily for this bunch throughout the rest of the season.
“We’re just trying to get better. I’m trying to figure it out,” Turgeon said. “We’re 3-3. We’ve had a tough stretch. We’re 15-4. We won 17 last year. We’ve got a lot of basketball left. My teams get better.
“We’re no where near where we want to be. I asked the team, ‘Is anybody where we want to be right now?’ Not one guy. But you figure out a way to win, and that’s what matters in the end.”