Leopards keep it close with 3-point success

A day after Maryland announced it was joining the Big Ten, the Terrapins played to the style of their future conference, using height, width and muscle to overpower Lafayette in a 83-74 win before 10,882 at Comcast Center on Tuesday night.

The starting lineup of the Leopards of the Patriot League actually included players 6-foot-10, 6-9 and 6-7. But they were no match for the Terrapins' inside rotation of 7-1 sophomore Alex Len (16 points, eight rebounds), 6-8 senior James Padgett (14 points, four rebounds), 6-8 freshman Charles Mitchell (12 points, five rebounds) and 6-9 freshman Shaquille Cleare (three points, four rebounds).

"Really pleased with the win. We played really well in stretches," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "There was a lot of fight in [Lafayette]. The only thing I was disappointed in the second half was we turned it over too many times."

It wasn't an artistic success as Maryland (3-1) also left too many Leopards open on the perimeter and hit only three of 15 of their own 3-point attempts. But Maryland emerged with workmanlike force, outrebounding Lafayette 44-28 and scoring more points in the paint 50-12.

With its spread-the-floor offense, Lafayette (1-4) kept it close as six different players combined to hit 15 shots from beyond the arc on 32 attempts.

Maryland pushed its lead to 19 early in the second half on a three-point-play by Padgett and a short jumper by Mitchell. But Lafayette answered with back-to-back 3-pointers by senior guard Tony Johnson (13 points, six assists) and sophomore guard Seth Hinrichs (20 points), who hit six of 11 shots from 3-point range.

The pattern continued in the second half until Maryland took control late. Pe'Shon Howard (five points, six assists) hit a key 3-pointer with three minutes left. Len had a dunk with 56 seconds left. And sophomore Dez Wells (11 points, six rebounds) muscled for a pair of inside baskets in the final 95 seconds.

Sophomore Nick Faust, who struggled Friday in a win over LIU Brooklyn, rebounded Tuesday night with 13 points and eight rebounds.

"We continue to talk," Turgeon said of Faust. "He got lazy out there at the end. But his defense was better."

With most of its shots coming from in close, Maryland hit 51.8 percent of its attempts from the floor and 22 of 32 from the free-throw line.

Maryland will return to Comcast Center on Friday night with a game against Georgia Southern (1-2) of the Southern Conference. Next Tuesday, the Terrapins play at Northwestern (4-0) in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.