Villanova's blistering start puts Terps in early hole
In light of how the first half ended up Sunday, it might be difficult to remember that Maryland drew first blood. Sophomore guard Sean Mosley drained a three-pointer from the corner to less than a minute into the game to provide the Terrapins their only lead of the night.
But all that shot did was poke a small hole in the dam that Villanova quickly busted through. Wildcats guard Corey Fisher answered immediately with a three-pointer to tie the game. Greivis Vasquez turned the ball over. Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds hit a three-pointer. Landon Milbourne turned the ball over. Corey Stokes hit a three-pointer.
By the first television timeout just more than four minutes into the game, Villanova had attempted five shots from beyond the arc and converted three. The Wildcats led 9-4 and then added five more points in the 38 seconds following that first media timeout to push their lead to 10. Villanova led by 11 at halftime.
"It's one of those things where if you're making them, you keep taking them, and we were late," Maryland Coach Gary Williams said. "And by late I mean not playing really bad defense, but against a Villanova you're late if you don't move on the pass. In other words, if you wait and see their player, say King, catch the ball, and then you decide to go cover him because it looks like he's going to shoot it, you're too late. Every time the ball's in the air you've got to go after him like he is going to shoot it and make him put it on the floor. We didn't do that the first half; we did it the second half. That was the difference."
Villanova made 11 of 22 three-point attempts during the first half Sunday night. Reynolds and Stokes shot a combined 7 of 11 from beyond the arc and tallied 27 points before the intermission.
For the Terrapins, the defensive lapse was two-fold. Maryland, as Williams noted, did not always get out to cover the man on the perimeter quick enough, thus allowing shots that were not fully contested. Maryland also struggled on the boards, where Villanova owned a 12-4 advantage at halftime in offensive rebounding. By game's end, the Wildcats owned a 23-7 edge in offensive rebounding.
"Those offensive rebounds were big," Villanova Coach Jay Wright said. "They kept a lot of possessions alive. That's one of the things, you know, their zone is tough. We didn't shoot a great percentage against their zone, but sometimes you give up some rebounds. We got some loose ball rebounds that were big."
Ah yes, with roughly eight minutes remaining in the first half, Maryland switched to a 3-2 zone in an effort to throw off Villanova's outside shooting rhythm. The move was only marginally effective the rest of the first half, but seemed to pay dividends in the second half. After shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc before halftime, Villanova shot 29.4 percent (5 for 17) from three-point range after the intermission.
Reynolds, who finished with 25 points, said Maryland's switch from man-to-man to zone defense was difficult to adjust to because "it looks almost the same. At times we were running man-to-man offense when they were in zone, and vice versa. They might have been in man-to-man (defense) and we were running zone."
Villanova's response, Wright and Reynolds noted, was simply to keep shooting the ball no matter what defensive look Maryland was offering.
"You can live with 29 percent," Williams said, "but you can’t live with 50 percent when they take that many."
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