College Park, Maryland-A couple of weeks ago after a bad 52-48 loss to the Seton Hall Pirates Maryland’s head coach Mark Turgeon didn’t know what to expect from his young team.
Turgeon insisted at the media conference in the Prudential Center that when Chol Marial returns back into the lineup the whole dynamics and chemistry will have a different look to it.
Marial has battled leg injuries since his high school days, and he underwent surgery in September to repair stress fractures in both of his legs. Now he’s attracting attention as a potential NBA lottery pick.
Marial was excited to be back in today’s game and demonstrated earlier in the contest that he would be a force to be reckoned with back to back dunks midway through the first half in Sunday’s 84-70 win over Bryant. The 7-foot-2 Marial had an immediate impact on the blocks by altering shots down low in his debut.
“For him to do what he did tonight was pretty impressive,” Turgeon said. “He energized the building. He energized the team.”
Bryant scored five straight points to pull within two points at 30-28 with 1:51 to play before the break.
A 15-5 Terapins run – seven straight for the home team, five for the Bulldogs and eight for the Terrapins – gave Maryland a 56-42 advantage with 8:37 to play in the contest. Maryland would stretch the lead by double digits the rest of the way.
Senior Adam Grant scored 25 points thanks to seven bombs downtown and redshirt-junior Ikenna Ndugba chipped in a season-high 19 points. The loss snapped the Bulldogs’ four-game winning streak.
Grant hit seven of Bryant’s 10 three-pointers in the game. The Bulldogs matched a season-best with nine turnovers committed. Bryant concludes its non-conference schedule at 8-5, matching the highest non-league win total of Bryant’s Division I era.
Maryland had two other players finished in double figures. Sophomore Aaron Wiggins scored 15 points to go along with nine rebounds, while forward Jalen Smith chipped in 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Marial’s imposing presence in the paint on offense and defense was the difference in the contest.
“He’s getting his natural basketball feel back,” Ayala said Saturday. “When he first started playing, you could tell he was just getting back into it. Now, he’s getting his strength back, he’s blocking shots and all that. He’s starting to come into who he usually is known for.”
COACH GRASSO’S COMMENTS
“I’m happy with where we are but not remotely satisfied. We go into league play now and we’re 0-0. If we don’t show up Thursday and Saturday for our first two league games, the strides we’ve made will mean nothing.
“We’re trending in the right direction – I like my group, I like their toughness, I like their character, I like how hard they play.”