Maryland breezes past Rider, 103-76, for third straight win

With the Big Ten opener on the horizon, Maryland basketball welcomed Rider into College Park on Tuesday night for one final tuneup before beginning its gauntlet of a conference schedule, with eyes on getting back above .500 for the first time since the season-opener.

The Terps used a first-half scoring barrage to cruise past the Broncs, 103-76, as the trio of Jahmir Young, Julian Reese and Jordan Geronimo combined for 59 points to help Maryland improve to 4-3 on the young season.

Maryland used a 19-4 run over a five-plus minute stretch in the first half to build its lead, led by Geronimo, who scored 13 first-half points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting from the field. He finished with a season-high 15 points.

His emergence as a reliable threat has allowed head coach Kevin Willard to utilize him all across the floor.

“I think Jordan Geronimo is playing with tremendous energy,” he said. “He’s exactly what I thought he would be for us. He’s doing some really good things on the defensive end. He plays 23 minutes and he’s plus-32, so that just tells you how hard he’s playing and how much energy he’s playing with.”

With Rider in a zone to start the game, the interior duo of Geronimo and Reese set the tone for Maryland’s dominant performance in the paint. With Reese running the high-post, the attention he received left open slots on the baseline for Geronimo to probe and get easy baskets.

This led the Broncs to collapse their zone, which led to open perimeter shots, allowing DeShawn Harris-Smith to find his fellow freshman Jamie Kaiser Jr. for back-to-back threes to give Maryland an early 14-8 lead. Maryland started 6-of-7 from the field to begin the game.

“We knew how they were going to play us,” Willard said. “I thought we did a really good job early just getting the ball to the high post … Jordan got a dunk, Juju got a dunk, and I think that helped relax everybody going against a zone.”

The Terps outscored Rider 24-14 in the paint in the first half while getting to the free throw line at will.

Maryland shot 32 first-half free throws to Rider’s eight, putting constant pressure on the Broncs’ big men by forcing 19 fouls.

Reese finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds for his third straight double-double. He went 8-10 from the free throw line in the first half, an area where he has looked to improve in the early stages of the season. He finished 14-17 from the line.

“I’ve got to thank coach a lot,” Reese said. “Him getting in there with me early in the morning, taking time out of his morning, to work on the things and build that confidence from the line. To see it work out is just amazing.”

Scoring was at a premium early for Maryland, as all but two players who touched the floor entered the scoring column in the first half, just one game after only four total players scored in the win over South Alabama.

Maryland showcased the defensive intensity that Willard has preached by turning 10 turnovers into 14 points in the first half.

“I thought in the first half our defense gave us a lot of opportunities,” he said. “You turn them over nine times, we had 22 deflections in the first half. I thought our defense really led to us getting some easy buckets.”

As Maryland extended its lead, Willard was able to experiment with newer lineups, most notably one that included both Caelum Swanton-Rodger and Mady Traore, who stand at 6-foot-11. This has been the case throughout the offseason as Willard looks to piece together his depth chart with Big Ten play looming.

Overshadowed by the outpour of interior scoring was Maryland’s 3-point shooting performance, which has constantly plagued them early on this season. The Terps shot 8-20 from 3-point range, which is a step in the right direction for Willard.

“I wasn’t as worried about the three-point percentage, I knew Jahmir was going to come in and make his threes,” Willard said. “So I know he’s probably going to get a high majority of our threes. He’s going to be a 40% three-point shooter.”

Young knocked down four of Maryland’s eight threes, as he finished with 22 points on an efficient 6-10 shooting, again proving his role as the leader of this offense at the point guard position.

“Just finding our rhythm,” Young said. “We’re all good shooters, just stepping in with confidence in our shots. It was good to get the ceiling off the rim. It’s been a rough couple of games in the past but we’re confident, those are behind us and we’re ready to go knock down some shots on the road.”

His craftiness was on full display yet again, converting multiple layups through contact by getting to the basket with ease. He went 6-7 from the free-throw line.

“Jahmir is the ultimate professional,” Willard said. “He’s going to go out there and make sure that not only is he playing the right way, but the team is playing the right way.”

For Rider, Mervin James scored a career-high 28 points on 10-15 shooting before fouling out with just over five minutes remaining.

Outside of James, Rider shot just 18-46 from the field.

Maryland continued to pour it on throughout the second half, leading by as many as 31 with 13:38 remaining. Rider was able to trim the lead at times, but it never fell below a 20-point threshold.

The 103 points are the most Maryland has scored since a 100-58 victory over Wingate on Jan. 15, 2021.

With the win, the Terps have won their 15th straight home game dating back to last season. Things will only get tougher from here, as Maryland will travel to Bloomington for a date with Indiana on Friday night at 7 p.m.

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