Saint Peters steps in, hopes to step up at Maryland

NCAA Basketball

Maryland versus Saint Peter’s wasn’t on the schedule when the basketball season began, but here comes the matchup on Friday afternoon in College Park, Md.

COVID-19 has played havoc with the unbeaten Terrapins’ schedule, so now enter the Peacocks (2-1), gearing for their third meeting ever with Maryland. The teams last met in December 2016, a game won by Maryland. The Terps are 2-0 against the Peacocks.

The Terrapins’ game with Monmouth on Tuesday was canceled after the Hawks had to shut down, and then when replacement Towson had a positive test, that game was called, too. So when George Mason, likewise, had to bow out Friday, enter Saint Peter’s, a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference team anxious to test themselves against a Big Ten foe.

While Maryland is 3-0, Saint Peter’s has won two consecutive games, the latest an 82-68 victory over Stony Brook on Tuesday. After a tight first half, the Peacocks pulled away and led by as many as 23, thanks to a 30-6 run in the second half.

SPU has depth and coach Shaheen Holloway isn’t afraid to use it.

“I want guys that are out there giving me everything,” he said. “When you’re fresh, you think fresh. You can do things you can’t when you’re tired. I don’t want guys taking plays off on defense because they’re tired.”

Dallas Watson led the way with 18 points, hitting 6-of-10 shots. Fousseyni Drame added 13 points, fresh off MAAC Player of the Week honors after averaging 15.5 points and 6.5 rebounds the first two games.

The Terrapins have been rolling — when they’ve been able to play — particularly on offense. Maryland canned 59.6 percent (31-of-52) of its shots against Mount St. Mary’s on Sunday, pulling away for a 79-61 win. The Terrapins shot 68.2 percent the previous game, sinking Navy, recording their highest shooting percentage since 1986.

Donta Scott led the way with a career high 17 points against The Mount, while Eric Ayala had 15, part of five players in double figures.

Still, Maryland had to overcome a nine-point deficit in the first half and trailed again with just under nine minutes to play before going on a 21-0 spree.

“We got our energy going, we defended and then we made shots,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “We have a lot of good players and if we have a player get hot, we try to go to them. That’s the way our system is set up.”

Maryland turns right around with another game added Saturday at James Madison. Saint Peters opens MAAC play Dec. 11-12 with two games at home against Niagara.

–Field Level Media

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