Maryland continued its winning ways on Saturday, defeating Minnesota 70-58 to claim their first home win as a member of the Big Ten. The Terps are off to their best start in 17 years, and despite losing four rotation players from the previous season to the transfer wire, a setback that would surely cripple most rebuilding programs, they are playing like a team that has chemistry and knows their identity. Despite their early success, Coach Turgeon has his mind on the bigger picture, and his steady hand will ultimately be the key to any potential success in postseason play.
“It’s the grind. It’s a marathon, here we go,” he said prior to facing Minnesota. After the game, he reiterated his mindset, saying “What matters to me is how we’re playing, and I don’t think we’re playing as well as we can play. We’ve got to play a more complete game and be a little bit more consistent.”
Maryland has played tough on defense and on the boards all year, and sophomore Damonte Dodd seemed to do it all against the Gophers logging 9 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks, and a number of altered shots at the rim. Dodd’s performance seemed to inspire his teammates’ play as well; the Terps held Minnesota to 33.8% shooting and forced 12 turnovers.
Freshman Melo Trimble and senior Dez Wells paced Maryland’s offense from the opening tip. Despite shooting poorly from beyond the arc, Trimble notched 20 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals, getting most of his buckets from the charity stripe. Wells also stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks.
Maurice Walker and Carlos Morris led Minnesota from tip-off through the final buzzer, scoring 38 of the team’s 58 points and playing actively on defense. Despite their performance the rest of the team struggled, with nobody else managing to log more than five points. Minnesota has a tough upcoming stretch of games, facing Ohio State, Michigan, and Iowa. With an additional two matchups with No. 4 Wisconsin to end the season, it’s tough to imagine the Golden Gophers remaining competitive in the Big Ten.
On the other hand, the Terrapins are turning heads already in their inaugural Big Ten season. They currently sit atop the conference standings, and with quality wins over Iowa State, Arizona State, and Michigan State, Maryland is building their resume for a tournament run come March. Up next for the Terps are Illinois and Purdue on the road, followed by a return to College Park to face off against fellow conference newcomer Rutgers.
*Section Photo credit to Gail Burton, Associated Press; Featured Photo (above) credit to Derik Hamilton, USA Today Sports