Maryland Paradise Jam preview
Perhaps it was the snorkeling that the team took part in yesterday during their off day, or maybe the crystal clear water or warm sunshine that you won’t find here in the Northeast right now, but something clicked for Maryland against Northern Iowa.
After giving up seven straight points to open the game against a scrappy Panther team, Maryland stayed in relative control for much of the rest in an 80-66 win on Sunday evening in the Virgin Islands.
Junior forward Evan Smotrycz led the way for Maryland, tying a career high with 20 points on and efficient 8-of-13 shooting performance. He added nine rebounds.
The win pushes Maryland into the championship game of Paradise Jam, which will take place Monday night. The Terrapins will play the winner of Providence vs. La Salle.
This was Maryland’s most complete performance of the season. Yes, there was the dominating second-half run against Abilene Christian or another strong second half on Friday against Marist, but Northern Iowa made this a battle throughout and the Terrapins were up for the fight.
Read more below.
Maryland 80, Northern Iowa 66
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Four of Maryland’s five starters scored in double figures, led by Smotrycz’s 20 points.
Sophomore Jake Layman found his stride in the second half and finished with 19 points. Three of those 19 points came on a kick-out pass from guard Dez Wells with under a minute to play, a shot that iced the game and more or left only a few free throws between Maryland and a victory.
Wells had 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting and Nick Faust 17 points on 6-of-11 from the floor.
DEZ WELLS: DIFFERENT HALVES, DIFFERENT ROLES
At 6-5 and a solid 215 pounds, there was no one on Northern Iowa’s team who could match up with Wells physically if he made it a point to get to the basket. That’s what he did in the first half.
While Maryland’s three-point shooters were a cold 0-of-8 from deep in the first half, Wells relentlessly attacked the basket and poured in 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting through 20 minutes of play.
His role shifted in the second half. Northern Iowa keyed in on him more on the offensive end, so he found ways to dish the ball, including the aforementioned find of Layman in the corner for the dagger.
Wells finished with six assists and just one turnover.
NORTHERN IOWA COLD FROM THE PERIMETER
With a size deficit at nearly every position but a collection of shooters on the perimeter, Northern Iowa’s game plan coming in was to keep the game close by hitting shots from the outside.
In the first half, they couldn’t find their stroke. The Panthers were 3-of-14 from three-point range in that first period.
The second half wasn’t much more kind. Northern Iowa shot 4-of-15 from distance in the final 20 minutes.
NICK FAUST EFFICIENT, EFFECTIVE
Faust played his best game of the season on Sunday night against Northern Iowa. Turgeon said early in the season that Faust hitting shots, believe it or not, could be a good thing or a bad thing. By that he meant that the confidence Faust gains by hitting a few shots can result in some bad or rushed shots.
Faust’s play was nothing but good against UNI. He was a defensive catalyst and an efficient member of the offense. Save one out-of-control charge call down the stretch in the second half, he played very well.