Maryland (15-15, 7-12 Big Ten) survived a stellar night from Minnesota’s Jamison Battle, a 6-foot-7 ahead who started his profession at George Washington. Battle had 39 factors to guide the Golden Gophers (13-15, 4-15) — probably the most by a visiting Big Ten participant at Xfinity Center since Maryland joined the convention.
Maryland is aware of it’s going to want a particular run to increase its season into the second half of this month. But senior Eric Ayala (15 factors, 9 rebounds) sees a group gelling on the proper time.
“We’re dangerous, man,” he mentioned. “I wouldn’t want to play us in any game these next few weeks. We’re hot right now.”
The Terps, coming off a win over then-No. 22 Ohio State, led for the ultimate half-hour however struggled to place away the Gophers. With 2:34 to go, a three-pointer from Battle reduce Maryland’s result in 70-68, however Ayala responded with his personal shot from deep. Maryland junior guard Hakim Hart (team-high 19 factors) made 4 free throws and a three-pointer down the stretch to assist seal the win.
“[Hart] made big-time shots for us down the stretch, got to the free throw line. … Hakim is somebody that does it all for us,” interim coach Danny Manning mentioned.
Minnesota additionally bought 21 factors from Payton Willis, however no different Gopher had greater than 5.
“We knew going into the ballgame that Battle and Willis were going to be extremely tough. I didn’t think they were going to be 60 points tough, to be honest with you,” Manning mentioned.
The Terps leaned on a well-rounded scoring effort with 5 gamers in double figures and a dominant exhibiting within the paint, the place they outscored Minnesota 46-16.
“I feel like our confidence is through the roof right now,” mentioned guard Fatts Russell, who had 16 factors. “… We just need as much momentum as possible going into this Big Ten tournament, and then anything is possible.”
Here’s what to know from Maryland’s win:
Maryland honored its seniors earlier than the sport, with four-year starter Ayala serving because the headliner. Ayala made the 108th begin of his school profession and has racked up greater than 1,400 factors. He’s the one participant on this senior class who spent the whole lot of his profession in College Park, and he’s the lone participant remaining from a freshman class that included Jalen Smith and Aaron Wiggins, each now within the NBA, in addition to three different scholarship gamers who transferred.
Russell (Rhode Island), Xavier Green (Old Dominion) and Simon Wright (Elon) transferred to Maryland earlier than this season. After 4 standout seasons at Rhode Island, Russell changed into a key piece of this Terps group. Green has been a daily contributor off the bench, and Wright performs often. Wright famous this week that his senior day sport at Elon was canceled, and Russell didn’t get his celebratory second in entrance of followers.
The Terps’ current run of strong kind has been largely fueled by Russell. He didn’t have the identical firepower in opposition to the Golden Gophers, however he nonetheless produced a 16-point outing with his customary acrobatics across the rim and skill to get to the foul line. All 4 of the seniors appeared in opposition to Minnesota, and all 4 subbed out late so they might obtain an ovation.
Hart was particularly strong within the second half, when he scored 15 of his 19 factors. He was 5 for 8 from the sphere and made only one three-pointer, but it surely got here when the Terps wanted to create some separation within the ultimate minutes. Hart additionally made a couple of well timed free throws late, ending 8 for 8 from the road.
Willis made his first two makes an attempt from deep and Battle made 4 from past the arc earlier than halftime. Minnesota made 5 three-pointers within the first six minutes and went into halftime taking pictures 7 for 15 from deep.
Maryland missed its first 5 makes an attempt from past the arc earlier than Green ended that skid halfway via the primary half. The Terps survived that disparity due to their determined benefit within the paint.