Even on days when the crowd is listless, the opponent uninspiring, and they have far from their best stuff, the Maryland Terrapins still can count on one constant – their dominance on the boards.
Saturday night with the Terps and the announced crowd of 10,282 seemingly suffering from an overdose of tryptophan, Maryland still rolled to 70-53 victory over Georgia Southern, thanks in large part to a 49-25 rebounding edge.
It took a while for Maryland (4-1) to assert its advantage against the Southern Conference also-ran which hasn’t had a winning season since 2007-08. The Terps fell behind 9-1 in the opening minutes, prompting coach Mark Turgeon to call an angry timeout and take corrective measures.
“Physically and mentally we weren’t ready to play,” Turgeon said. “It wasn’t really a fun game to be a part of.”
But 7-2 sophomore Alex Len (10 points, seven rebounds) and freshmen Charles Mitchell (13 points, 11 rebounds) and Shaquille Cleare (10 points, five rebounds) got the message as the Terps started throwing their weight around.
“We were pretty aggressive on the boards, me and Charles and Alex getting it done,” Cleare said. “You can’t start on offense unless you got the basketball. Our job as bigs is to box out, be physical, get the rebound, and get it to the guards.’
Maryland has lived up to those principles, out-rebounding all five foes decisively. The margins have been 16 (Kentucky), eight (Morehead State), 12 (Long Island), 16 (Lafayette), and 24 (Georgia Southern), not that Turgeon is particularly impressed.
“It’s funny, it doesn’t feel that way during the game,” Turgeon said. “A lot of it is, we’re just bigger than you are – that type of deal.”
Maryland’s size advantage was apparent the moment the starters stepped on the floor. Georgia Southern (2-3) started four players listed as guards. The lone forward, 6-foot-6 Mike Baynham, finished with two points and three rebounds.
Maryland also was boosted by senior Logan Aronhalt (12 points) who hit all four of his 3-point attempts while his teammates went a combined 1 of 12 from beyond the arc.
“He made one against the zone, so we got them out of the zone,” Turgeon said. “It’s good to see because Logan hasn’t shot the ball well. He was in the gym early this morning.”
With a 3-pointer five seconds into the second half, Aronhalt, a transfer from Albany, triggered a 17-4 run, which gave Maryland a 46-30 lead. The blitz included three baskets by the 6-8 Mitchell, a 3-pointer by Nick Faust (11 points, five assists), and a 3-point-play by Len.
“Coming from Albany [I was] playing basically 35 minutes a game,” Aronhalt said. “For me to flip roles, play spot minutes here and there, just come in and make shots, it’s different. It’s taken me a couple games to get used to it.”