Maryland’s game against University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) was quick, easy and painless Wednesday night.
Logan Aronhalt led the Terps in scoring against UMES, finishing with 17 points while shooting 6-for-9 from the floor.
The Terps took an early lead and never let off the gas pedal, taking a 21-point advantage into halftime and cruising to a dominant, 100-68 win over the Hawks in front of the 9,813 fans inside Comcast Center.
“I’m not going to make a big deal about this,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “I’m not going to stress about it.”
And, quite frankly, that’s how it should be. Any other outcome would have raised concerns about this young Terps team, which has now won seven straight games since losing its season opener to Kentucky.
UMES (0-8) entered Wednesday’s game winless with an average margin of defeat of 14.1 points. Maryland (7-1) had topped UMES 15 times by an average of 38.6 points before Wednesday’s tilt, and the Hawks came into the game ranking 309th in rebounds per game, 319th in assists per game, 329th in points per game and 345th in field goal percentage among Division I college teams.
UMES didn’t belong on the same court as Maryland, and the Terps proved as much Wednesday night.
“It’s hard to take away too much from it,” guard Logan Aronhalt said. “The competition level is so different from the rest of the games. We just have to bring it. At times we did, and at other times we didn’t. It can’t be our goal just to beat teams like this. We have to win by 20, 30 or 40 and really play our best.”
Aronhalt led Maryland with a season-high 17 points and shot 5-for-7 from 3-point range. But the Terps once again displayed balance on offense, as five players scored in double figures for the third time this season. This time around it was Aronhalt, Shaquille Cleare (12), Nick Faust (10), Jake Layman (10) and Charles Mitchell (10).
The Terps shot 61 percent from the floor – 50 percent from beyond the arc – and recorded 27 assists, meaning 71 percent of their baskets were set up by helpers.
“I was pleased with the way we shared the ball,” Turgeon said. “It was a game where you could get selfish, and we didn’t. We had 27 assists. We’ve had one game with 28, and one game with 27 this year. That’s almost as many as we had all of last season in those two games.”
“That was the first thing [Turgeon] said after the game,” Aronhalt said when asked about the team’s assists. “He was really happy with that.”
Due to the dominant showing, Maryland was able to play 14 players against UMES.
With 2:15 left in regulation, and the Terps leading, 92-63, Turgeon subbed in all of his walk-ons, giving Conner Lipinski, Spencer Barks, Jacob Susskind and John Auslander playing time with Aronhalt.
As time winded down, Lipinski scored four points off free throws, and brought the Terps’ point total to 100 for the first time since Dec. 9, 2011 vs. Longwood. As the walk-ons put on a show, their teammates – noticeably Mitchell, Seth Allen and Dez Wells – jumped up and down on the sideline, waving towels over their heads in excitement.
“That was great. That shows you our team,” Turgeon said. “They were all around them in the timeout. I couldn’t even get a word in. The guys were like, ‘Play hard. You’ve got to do this. It’s your time. You guys work hard.’ … Our guys appreciate them and respect them. That’s why everyone was excited for them.”
All in all, the Terps did what they were supposed to do against UMES. They blew out a vastly inferior nonconference opponent in the first of six final home games before starting ACC play Jan. 5 against Virginia Tech.
It was an opportunity to build confidence, tinker with lineups and work on their own mistakes before a gamut of competition begins a month down the road.
“We were happy about the win, but it’s on to the next game,” Allen said. “We just want to get better at what we do, so come ACC play, we can play our game.”