Maryland Comfortably Defeats Niagara in Kevin Willard’s Debut

The long-awaited offseason has been put to bed as Maryland defeated Niagara 71-49 on Monday night, giving head coach  Kevin Willard the win in his College Park coaching debut.

In front of a half-filled Xfinity Center, Jahmir Young and Don Carey made their first career starts as Terps alongside Hakim Hart, Donta Scott and Julian Reese. Hart would be the first Terp to score this season Maryland would hold onto the lead for all but 17 seconds of the game thanks to stellar early shooting from the field.

Maryland opened the game by knocking down seven of their first ten shots and after Donta Scott scored off a fastbreak to push Maryland ahead 18-8 roughly seven minutes into the game, Niagara head coach Greg Paulus hoped an early timeout would slow down the Terps’ momentum but the Terps were unfazed, maintaining the lead. That early lead allowed Willard to lean on his depth midway through the first half, bringing Patrick Emilien and Noah Batchelor onto the court as Batchelor knocked down his first career attempt. In the end, nine different Terps found their way onto the court in Monday’s win before Ike Cornish and Caelum Swanton-Rodger helped to close out the win.

While Maryland finished with four stretches of over two minutes without scoring a point to leave ample room to grow offensively, the Terps weren’t shy about flashing new defensive looks. After flashing man on the first two possessions of the game, Maryland adjusted to a 2-3 zone on the fly while flashing a full-court press after Ian Martinez and Jahari Long checked in roughly six minutes into the game in a move that pushed the lead to double-digits. Maryland would also sporadically flash a halfcourt press in the second half of Monday’s win, a welcomed sight as Niagara finished with 12 turnovers, including four over a four-minute stretch in the second half.

Niagara was able to take advantage of a handful of miscommunications and poor screen defense, but the Terps did enough to keep Niagara an arm’s length away throughout the night. Despite finishing without a made three-point shot on five attempts on the night, Niagara was able to find success in the paint after outrebounding Maryland 20-10 which turned into 20 points in the paint in the first half.

Scott also elevated Maryland’s three-point shooting in the win, knocking down four of Maryland’s nine attempts as the team finished 47.4% from deep. Scott (18 pts) was one of two players in double-figures, joining Jahmir Young (14 pts). 

The paint dominance continued to start the second half after Niagara trimmed the lead to as little as four points

Next: Maryland will host Western Carolina on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 7 PM.

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