Maryland men's basketball crushes Saint Louis, 95-67, in Hall of Fame Tip-Off opener for 4th straight win – Baltimore Sun

Maryland men’s basketball crushes Saint Louis, 95-67, in Hall of Fame Tip-Off opener for 4th straight win – Baltimore Sun

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Kevin Willard flipped the script.

The Maryland men’s basketball coach’s squad came into Saturday’s game with stingy defense being its calling card, but the Terps turned out to be the team lighting up one of the top offensive squads in the country.

Donta Scott tied a career high with 25 points to lead Maryland over Saint Louis, 95-67, in the opening game of the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Terps (4-0) advance to play the winner of Providence vs. Miami (Fla.) at 1 pm Sunday in the championship game.

The victory was a milestone for Willard, who became the first coach in program history to start 4-0. It’s also the first time since the 2009-10 season that Maryland has beaten four straight opponents by 20 or more points.

“This team has been a blast to coach because I think every one of them has a chip on their shoulder,” Willard said. “I think what you are seeing on the court is a result of their hard work, their attitude, their unselfishness playing with each other.

“Tomorrow is an opportunity to win a championship, so any time you have that opportunity you have to seize it.”

Don Carey and Hakim Hart had 16 points apiece as five Terps scored in double tricks. Ian Martinez added 14 points and Jahmir Young had 11. The Terps made a season-high 13 three-pointers on 32 attempts.

“I was just trying to stay locked into the game plan,” Scott said. “Because once you play great defense that generates great offense.”

The Billikens (3-1) entered Saturday averaging 88 points per game, which ranked 35th in the country. Maryland entered ranked 12th in scoring defense, holding opponents to just 50.7 points per game. The Billikens eclipsed that mark, but it didn’t come easy.

Saint Louis’ top scorer Gibson Jimerson finished with six points, well below his 18.7 per game average. Javonte Perkins had 17 and Yuri Collins added 12 on 3-for-12 shooting. Collins was also held in check as a playmaker, collecting just six assists after coming in averaging 12 per game.

“I played against him like four years ago, I think, and I love his game,” Willard said of Collins. “We just wanted him to see bodies at all times, especially early in the game because I didn’t want him to get confidence he was going to get in the lane.

“Our guards did a great job.”

Maryland guard Hakim Hart (13) reacts in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Saint Louis, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in Uncasville, Conn.  (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Maryland’s leading scorer Julian Reese was held to a season-low four points. The former St. Frances standout entered averaging 15 points per game, but foul trouble in both halves slowed him down. He sat the final 5:01 of the first half after picking up a second foul, then landed back on the bench early in the second with a third foul at 17:07.

The Terps had plenty of firepower without their big man on the way to a 51-27 lead at the break. Hart led the way with 16 points, while Scott and Carey each added 12.

A stagnant perimeter game — Maryland came in just 6-for-39 from 3-point range the past two games — became a source of strength as the Terps went 9-for-19 from deep. Carey knocked down four threes, while Scott and Hart each added two.

Saint Louis coach Travis Ford admitted being surprised at the Terps’ perimeter success after the game. With Maryland scoring a combined 94 points in the paint the past two games, the Billikens’ defensive game plan was more geared to stopping the inside attack.

Saint Louis guard Sincere Parker, right, reaches for the ball against Maryland forward Donta Scott, left, in the first half of Saturday's game in Uncasville, Connecticut.

“We had a lot to do with it, but you still have to make them and they made them,” Ford said. “I’ll watch on tape to see how many were wide open — a lot of them were wide open — but I told our team I’ll take responsibility.

“We did some different things that we thought might take away their paint [production], but that’s on me. We tried to make a few adjustments but nothing seemed to work.”

Maryland never trailed in the first half but created some separation in the final 7:43 with a 16-2 run that gave it a 38-19 lead. A 3-point flurry led to a 13-4 run, with Hart, Scott and Carey each hitting from the perimeter.

It was Saint Louis’ lowest scoring half of the season as the Billikens shot just 25% (8-for-32) from the field compared to Maryland’s 51.4% (19-for-37).

The Terps improved to 2-0 in the series. The other victory came in the 1994 NCAA Tournament, when Joe Smith had 29 points and 15 rebounds in a 74-66 victory at Kansas Coliseum.

Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off

Maryland vs. Miami (Fla.)

Uncasville, Connecticut

Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV: ESPN

Radio: 105.7 FM

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