Maryland pulls away for 71-42 win over Fairfield
If only the final scores of Maryland's first two games were more indicative of how the entire contests played out, the Terrapins might not seem as sullen afterward. The players weren't mad or depressed or anything like that Tuesday night following a 29-point win over Fairfield, but they certainly didn't carry themselves as if they were 2-0 (which they are), either.
Maryland had its fair share of struggles early on against Fairfield's mix-and-match defensive game plan. The Stags switched frequently from zone to man, and that appeared to catch the Terrapins off guard initially. Coach Gary Williams said it's unusual to see an opposing team employ such a method this early in the season. Nonetheless, Maryland eventually pulled itself out of its rut, led by standout performances from Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne.
Hayes steadied the Terrapins early when nothing much seemed to be going right for them offensively. He scored 10 points in the first half. Milbourne stood his ground in the post on a night when Maryland was severely lacking in frontcourt depth. He finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.
"You know, you expect your defense to be there every night," Williams said. "Some times it is; sometimes it isn’t. But on a night like this when you don’t shoot it, it better be there. You know, obviously, an eight-point game at halftime, the game’s not over. You have to play really hard coming out of the locker room. And that’s two straight games where we’ve done that."
1) Defense. Though Fairfield jumped out to an early lead, Maryland's defense righted itself fairly quickly and was solid throughout the night. The Stags tallied 25 turnovers on the night, and Maryland recorded 12 steals. The Terrapins outscored Fairfield off turnovers, 21-5. Sophomore guard Sean Mosley led the way with four steals.
2) Eric Hayes. The guy doesn't say much. He doesn't get very animated too often. He doesn't make the most creative of shots (though that 360-spin lay-up tonight was pretty nifty). But when he's aggressive with the ball in his hands, Hayes can produce. For a good portion of the first half it seemed as though Hayes was the only Terrapin with any sort of offensive rhythm. He scored 10 points in the first half and played a large role in settling his teammates down to the point where they could run the offense more effectively as a unit.
"To me, he was the MVP today," Greivis Vasquez said. "He carried us extremely well and he really hit some big shots for us."
3) Sean Mosley. The sophomore guard is learning how to fill out a stat sheet quite nicely. He tallied 13 points, seven rebounds, four steals, a pair of assists and a block for good measure. On a night when the Terps were short-handed in terms of their frontcourt options off the bench, Mosley crept into the post, fought for position and helped ease the stress on forwards Landon Milbourne, James Padgett and Jordan Williams. Maryland won the rebounding battle, 41-36, against Fairfield, and Mosley played a critical role in that accomplishment.
1) Half-court execution. Especially in the first half, Maryland seemed thrown off by Fairfield's ever-changing defensive looks. The Terrapins shot 40.6 percent from the field before the intermission, but the nine turnovers and countless other mental miscues made the initial offensive performance seem even worse.
"You can't depend on your defense to force turnovers all the time that lead to your scores," Williams said. "You have to be able to run your half-court offense, so the emphasis in practice the next two days before playing New Hampshire will be playing better halfcourt offense. I thought that for this time of year (Fairfield) did a good job of confusing us. They took us out of our sets because they kept switching defenses quite a bit out there. But having gone through it is good. We'll learn a lot from this game."
2) Vasquez's shooting. Through two games this season, Vasquez has shot 6 of 25 (24 percent) from the field. It's far too soon to draw any definitive conclusions just yet, but if his scoring struggles persist, Maryland will have a much more difficult time surviving against a tougher opponent on a night when few other Terrapins were clicking on offense.
3) Slow starts. Maryland's first two opponents are the worst teams in the world. In fact, on a more equal playing field (talent-wise), Charleston Southern and Fairfield likely would be fairly competitive. But they are not teams that should be able to hang with a squad expected to finish in the upper third of the ACC for any prolonged period of time. And yet, early on against both opponents, the Terrapins looked sluggish. Fairfield held a lead more than 10 minutes into the game. Big deal? No. An emerging trend worth monitoring? Absolutely. This was an issue for Maryland last season too at times, so maybe it's just a phase that will pass. But it will remain a concerning issue for the Terps until the matter is resolved.
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