Even more than normal, Maryland guard Melo Trimble was in a sharing mood Saturday against Saint Peter’s at Xfinity Center. With their leading scorer not even looking at the basket in the first half, the Terps fed off their floor leader’s largesse.
Unfortunately, the rest of the team stopped finding the basket for a good stretch of the second half.
As a result, what started out as a potential rout for the Terps turned into a perfunctory 66-56 victory that, at least in part, negated what might have been their best first-half performance of the season.
Maryland (10-1) scored the game’s first 14 points and led 40-18 at halftime, despite Trimble attempting no shots and scoring no points in the first 20 minutes.
“We played a great first half, really defended, shot the ball well, shared the ball, 10 assists on 13 baskets," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "… I thought Melo really shared the ball. The second half, I thought we were the exact opposite. We weren’t very good, we didn’t stay focused and just didn’t finish the game."
Asked if he’ll show his team tape of the first half or the second half, Turgeon said, “We’ll see when we watch it. I think what we’ve got to do is we’ve got to start doing little things better. That’s what it’s really about. Whether it’s rebounding or execution or huddling up, communication, little things like that.
“It’s disappointing. I thought we totally lost concentration and quit playing. I’ll take the blame. I tried to play everybody equal. It’s not equal opportunity anymore moving forward. I tried to give everybody a chance. Guy lost rhythm because of it.”
It wasn’t Maryland’s younger players that were the biggest culprits.
Freshman forward Justin Jackson finished with a team-high 19 points on 6-for-8 shooting from both the field and free-throw line. Freshman wing Kevin Huerter added a season-high 14 points, including 12 in a first half when he made all four shots he tried including three 3-pointers.
“I thought they were terrific. If I wasn’t doing equal opportunity, I think Justin would have had 25 and Kevin would have had 20. Those guys were great,” Turgeon said. “I think Anthony [Cowan] did a lot of great things. He drove the ball.”
After hitting 13 of 19 shots in the first half, including five of eight from 3-point range, the Terps made just seven of 25 shots in the second half, including two of 10 3-pointers. After Saint Peter’s (4-5) missed its first 10 shots and 22 of 29 in the first half, the Peacocks made 15 of 31 in the second half, shooting 5-for-12 from beyond the arc. Saint Peter’s didn’t score for the first 8:05 of the game.
“I thought we played well the first half. We played inside-out,” Turgeon said. “We executed, we shared the ball … and guys made shots and Kevin kind of got us going. I thought our execution was good. ... In the second half when we’re not making shots, we’ve got to find a way to be a little more consistent.”   
Said Huerter: “His message after the game was that we still haven’t put together a full game. Up to this point of the year, we’ve had trouble starting games off really good. Today we finally had a good first half and we didn’t have a good second half. We still have some work to put together 40 minutes.”            
What concerned Turgeon, and could become a problem once Maryland gets into Big Ten play, was the lack of contribution from his upperclassmen.
In a combined 40 minutes – in essence a full game – junior wing Jared Nickens, redshirt sophomore guard Dion Wiley and graduate transfer forward L.G. Gill were a combined 0-for-8 from the field, with four points (three by Wiley), six rebounds (four by Wiley) and two turnovers (one each by Nickens and Gill).
The lack of production – and focus – contributed to Maryland’s 51-26 lead with 11:22 to go getting cut to 13 with 1:34 left and to 10 three times in the final 1:13. It also led to Turgeon putting Trimble back in when the Terps couldn’t handle the Peacocks' press.
“We’ve got to get some leadership, a little better leadership,” Turgeon said. “We’ve got to practice a little bit better than we’re practicing. The great thing is that it’s all correctable stuff. … We’re getting there. We’re getting there in a lot of aspects, but we’ve got to shore up some things.”
Turgeon looked at Trimble’s performance as a positive.
Despite not taking a single shot in the first half and only four for the game – hitting two, including his only 3-pointer – Trimble orchestrated with his passing. He finished with four assists and no turnovers.
But when his teammates started missing in the second half, Trimble didn’t take over as he often has done.
“It would have been nice,” Turgeon said. “We never found a rhythm to start. We had some really wide-open looks to start. We had some great execution and we didn’t hit them.
"It kind of affected us. He really trusts his teammates and likes his teammates. I thought he was making really good decisions. We just couldn’t find a rhythm in the second half and it finally affected our defense.”
NOTES: Despite a season-low five points, Trimble passed Joe Smith for 27th on the school's career points list. Trimble, who along with Smith is the only player in school history to score at least 500 points in each of his first two seasons, now has 1,291 points. ... Maryland plays Monday at home against Jacksonville State, where Turgeon began his Division I head coaching career in 1998.    
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