20-point performance from Donta Scott lifts Maryland over Minnesota, 70-54

On a day where three lower-seeded Big Ten teams advanced to the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, No. 6 Maryland basketball needed a late-night victory over No. 14 Minnesota to break that streak.

The Terps did just that, as a 20-point performance from Donta Scott lifted his squad over the Gophers, 70-54. Maryland has now won all three matchups against Minnesota this season and 10 straight overall against the Gophers.

The win snapped a two-game losing streak for Maryland entering the tournament.

“We came out with a great mindset,” Maryland head coach Kevin Willard said. “Had a good practice yesterday, good walkthrough, … I always look at the big picture. Penn State and Ohio State are playing really good, and those are our last two losses.”

Scott – who scored only one point in last Sunday’s heartbreaking loss at Penn State – had one of his better performances of the season on Thursday night.

His four first-half threes helped the Terps build an 11-point lead in what was a somewhat sloppy, foul-ridden 20 minutes of basketball.

“My teammates really found me early on and they had faith in my shot, just like coach had faith in my shot,” Scott said. “Even though it hasn’t been falling lately, they told me to keep shooting.”

“I thought Donta had a little bit better chance of resting tonight on defense,” Willard said. “When he doesn’t wear himself out defensively, he really helps us offensively.”

All three Maryland forwards who entered the game at the five-spot dealt with foul trouble in the first half.

Sophomore big man Julian Reese picked up two fouls on the offensive end and was forced to sit with eight minutes to play. Spelling him was Patrick Emilien, who committed three quick fouls of his own, which forced Willard to insert freshman center Caelum Swanton-Rodger into the game to control Maryland’s thin frontcourt.

Despite Maryland’s foul trouble and its leading scorer Jahmir Young only scoring one first-half point, the Terps led 31-24 at the break.

Young looked out of sorts at times in the opening half of his first power-five conference tournament game. The Charlotte transfer didn’t make a field goal until the 11:35 mark of the second half, but turned it up a notch in the game’s closing stages.

He finished with 15 points and six rebounds, but did most of his damage at the free-throw line, going 9-11.

“It was a rough night for me, but the win is all that matters,” Young said.

While Young searched for his shot, his fellow grad-transfer, Don Carey, continued his steady play.

“I think the main thing is just being shot-ready and being ready to shoot the ball at all times when my teammates find me,” Carey said.

Carey finished with 11 points – 3-7 from three-point range – and has now scored in double figures for a fifth-straight game. He was one of four Terps to finish in double figures in the victory.

On the defensive end, Maryland thrived on some Gopher miscues, scoring 19 points on 15 Minnesota turnovers.

“We pride ourselves on defense,” Scott said. “It’s all about defense – defense wins games, and we really get after each other when we have practice and we take that mindset into the game and we know that once we lock in [on] defense there’s not really much you can do to disrupt our connection.”

Two of Minnesota’s leading scorers – Dawson Garcia and Jamison Battle – were limited on Thursday night, as the pair mustered only eight points on 3-15 shooting from the field.

“We just wanted to stay home on Garcia and Battle,” Willard said. “I thought over the last three games they had been really finding each other, playing well off each other, … it was more or less [to] just stay at home and not get in scramble-situations and just make them score over us.”

Garcia poured in 18 points and 13 rebounds in Wednesday night’s victory over Nebraska, but dealt with foul trouble and fatigue in Thursday’s loss. Minnesota was playing from behind virtually the entire night, as Maryland led nearly wire-to-wire and remained in control of the pace.

With the win, Maryland improved to 4-7 in Big Ten tournament games since joining the conference in 2014-15, and secured its first win since defeating Michigan State, 68-57, in the 2021 tournament.

Maryland reached the Big Ten semifinals in each of its first two seasons after joining the conference, but had won only one tournament game since the 2015-16 season before Thursday’s victory. The Terps have a chance to get back to the semifinals if they can secure a victory over Indiana, who they will face Friday night at 9 p.m.

Related Links

Virginia CB takes first visit to Maryland (+)

Maryland announces additions of Josh Gattis, Zac Spavital

International TE sees scheme fit during visit to Maryland (+)

Maryland basketball’s seeding appears clear heading into Big Ten Tournament

VIP: rumblings from the trail, another big local visitor (+)