The Maryland Terrapins, led by sophomore guard Nick Faust, won their ninth straight, dropping the Monmouth Hawks 71-38 in a game characterized by turnovers and defense. The win streak of nine games was the largest since the Terps won 13 straight with their 2002 National Championship team. Monmouth's 38 points was the fewest points scored against the Terps since Maryland Eastern Shore scored 38 back on Jan. 6, 2004.
We're playing Monmouth, Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said after the game. Nothing against Monmouth, but our guys should play better against Monmouth than they played. I'm disappointed, and they have to give me more. The problem is everybody is telling them how good they are because of our record. They are listening to everybody else except for me. But we have a lot of time. We're going to be fine. The guys are going to be fine. I told them after the game tonight that I expect a lot out of them. I know how talented they are, and what they are going to do here.
We have to give credit to Monmouth, sophomore forward Dez Wells said. They're a good team, they played hard and they didn't give up. Teams like that can beat teams like us if we don't play as hard as we have to.
Faust scored a season-high 16 points, making three of seven from behind the arc. Sophomore center Alex Len recorded his third double-double of the season, scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 boards while also recording five blocks. Wells added another 10 points and Pe'Shon Howard dished out seven assists.
The Terps had an efficient night offensively, shooting 58.1 percent from the field. Their defense also stepped up big, limiting Monmouth to a mere 20.6 percent from the field. Monmouth put up 30 shots in the second half but only made five buckets.
This was the third time the Terrapins faced the Hawks, winning all three of the games at home. The last time the two teams met was on Dec. 11, 2012 with the Terps stomping the Hawks in a 91-55 showing. Monmouth became the fourth school the Terps faced that they remained undefeated against, with the Terps having never lost to George Mason, Maryland Eastern Shore and South Carolina State in their school history.
The size of the Terrapins was just too much for the Hawks to handle, with Maryland's starting five standing a combined two feet and two inches taller than Monmouth's starting unit. The Terps outscored the Hawks 38-14 in the paint and out-rebounded them 44-29.
With the Terps finally able to pull away in the beginning of the second, Howard lobbed a pass up toward the basket. Len grabbed the ball and dunked it into the hoop, bringing the Maryland crowd up cheering and giving the Terps a 41-25 lead about five minutes into the second half. Two minutes later, freshman guard Seth Allen would find himself on a breakaway, finishing at the hoop with a two-handed jam to once again bring the crowd to its feet. The Terps finished the second half outscoring the Hawks 40-17.
Our mindset was to come out and do what coach told us, Faust said. Coach was really upset with us at halftime. We just wanted to come out and execute. We, as players, were also upset because we knew we weren't playing to our standards.
The Terps jumped out to a quick 11-2 lead just 3 minutes and 20 seconds into the game and would not trail again. Monmouth's Jesse Steele hit a three-point basket and made a layup to cut Maryland's lead to 15-12 with about 11 minutes left in the first half, but that was the closest the Hawks would get. The Terps could not pull away though in the first half, with turnovers plaguing the team throughout the first half. The Terps, who came into the night averaging 15 turnovers a game, ended the first half with 13 giveaways.
It was probably one of the worst halves one of my teams has played, Turgeon said. I was really disappointed in our team. We have worked really hard on turnovers, but I was really disappointed in it today. It was more mental than anything. They just weren't mentally into the game.
We weren't strong enough with the ball, Len said. After Coach [Turgeon] talked to us at halftime, we took his advice and tried to make changes to our play. I feel like we were much stronger with the ball in the second half.
Coach [Turgeon] knows that we can play a lot better, and that he can get more out of us, Faust added. He really was upset with us tonight, but we all took it and tried to come out in the second half and improve our play. It was a lot of lack of concentration.
The Terps finished the game with 23 turnovers, but Monmouth was only able to score eight points off of turnovers. Monmouth failed to capitalize on many opportunities, only scoring five second chance points and four fast break points. The Hawks' bench was also outscored by Maryland, 19-14.
Freshman forward Jake Layman did not play in the first half. Turgeon said after the game that this was due to an academic reason and that Layman had to stay in study hall and miss Monday's practice to catch up academically. Turgeon also added that Layman was lucky to play at all.
With the win, Maryland improves to 9-1 on the season while Monmouth falls to 5-6 overall. The Terps will take a break as the student-athletes take their finals and will retake the hardwood Dec. 21 against Stony Brook at home in the Comcast Center. Tip off is scheduled for 8 p.m.