After being pushed to the limit by a local mid-major foe, No. 21 Maryland will be tested again Saturday when Vermont visits College Park, Md.
The Terrapins (2-0) opened their season with a straightforward 83-69 win over Quinnipiac, but then had to claw their way to a 71-64 victory against George Washington on Thursday. The Colonials led by as many as five in the first half and held a 30-29 advantage at intermission.
Maryland eventually moved ahead by 12 on a Fatts Russell three-point play with 5:39 to go, yet George Washington never let up, trimming the lead to two. Russell drained a 3 with 44 seconds to go to end the upset bid.
“The first half I wasn’t happy with the shots,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “I thought the second half we got a lot of really good looks.”
Qudus Wahab led Maryland with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting and 15 rebounds. The Georgetown transfer became the first player since Steve Francis in 1998 to score 15 or more in each of his first two games for Maryland.
Russell had 15 points and six rebounds and Eric Ayala added 11 points.
Had George Washington finished the job, it wouldn’t have been the first surprise of the young college basketball season, and Turgeon recognized it.
“You look around the country (and) there’s upsets right now, there’s a lot of them going on,” he said. “The guys found a way to win. I didn’t like the way we started the game shooting the ball, but I thought we played with some pretty good poise. They just kept making tough shots. We made some mistakes too that we’ll learn from, but I’m proud of our guys.”
Saturday will be Maryland’s third game in five days.
Meanwhile, Vermont (1-0) is heading to Maryland off a season-opening win Thursday at Northern Iowa. The Catamounts shot 45 percent from the field and made 11 3-pointers for a wire-to-wire 71-57 victory.
They won despite not having Ryan Davis, the America East Conference preseason player of the year, who is day-to-day with a non-COVID illness.
Without Davis, Ben Shungu posted 19 points and seven boards, Isaiah Powell netted 17 points and Robin Duncan went for seven points, 11 rebounds and four assists.
“I thought our guys did a tremendous job of fighting all night long and executing the game plan,” Vermont coach John Becker said. “Defensively, we were really tough and I thought Robin Duncan and the guards did a great job coming back to rebound.”
Vermont has won at least a share of the America East regular-season title five years running, though that has only translated to two NCAA Tournament appearances in that span due to conference tourney upsets and the lost pandemic year.
–Field Level Media