College Park, MD—The Vermont Catamounts came to College Park to play and played sound basketball in the first half against the #21 ranked team in the nation. But flamed out in the second.
Fatts Russell and Eric Ayala both scored 22 points, and No. 21 Maryland rallied Saturday to defeat Vermont 68-57.
Ben Shungu scored a career-high 27 points and Isaiah Powell chipped in 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Catamounts (1-1), who have not defeated a Big Ten team since 1977.
The Terapins is off to a 3-0 start for the eighth consecutive season after allowing just eight points in the final 8:57.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, and that last 10 minutes was as good as one of my teams has ever played defensively,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “I’ve had a lot of good defensive teams, and that was something else.”
Vermont’s defense limited Qudus Wahab to only 2 shots and 2 points with 7:30 remaining in the first half. Wahab is coming off a double-double against George Washington University was stifiled by the Catamounts active defense, Eric Ayala, had his own back-and-forth battle with Vermont Guard, Robin Duncan.
As the Terps tried to ignite their offense, the intensity stoked an altercation which broke out with 6:20 remaining before the half.
Maryland trailed by nine points in the first half and 39-32 early in the second before Ian Martinez’s 3-pointer finished a 12-2 run that gave them the lead for good with 12:48 left.
After the break, Vermont was looking to upset the Terps -they shot 48% from the floor compared to the Terps 32%. With Vermont leading Maryland, 25 – 20 at the half, the Maryland knew they had to make some adjustment on defense.
The second half rally Maryland outscored Vermont 36-21, and the Terps defense began locking down the Catamounts who lost their initial steam. Shungu, who scored 20 points in the first half, was held to 7 points in the second and Vermont senior, Isaiah Powell, small guard was held to 13 points and 11 rebounds for the game.
In the second half, Maryland went with a smaller lineup, as center Wahab played only eight scoreless minutes after the break but the change in personnel was the difference in the outcome.
“They were really building a wall in transition against Benny, and even in the halfcourt they had guys one pass away that were really squeezed in on him and made everything difficult for him,” Vermont coach John Becker said.
Vermont will try to extend its winning streak in home openers to eight Tuesday against Division III Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Maryland continues its opening five-game home-stand Wednesday against George Mason. The Terpapins are 9-0 all-time against the Patriots.