Saturday's Big Ten basketball: No. 21 Maryland rallies to defeat Vermont

By Patrick Stevens
Associated Press

College Park, Md. — Eric Ayala and Fatts Russell each 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 added 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Catamounts (1-1), who have not defeated a Big Ten team since 1977.

Maryland forward Julian Reese (10) goes to the basket for a layup against Vermont guard Kameron Gibson.

Maryland 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.”

The Terrapins trailed by nine 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.

Maryland struggled to fully put away Vermont until late. Ayala and Russell combined for nine points during a 10-0 run in the final minutes to push the lead to 13.

Shungu scored 20 points in the first half, including a pair of 3-pointers in the final minute to give the Catamounts a 36-32 lead at the break.

“He got going in the first half,” Ayala said. “I came in at halftime and was telling the guys, ‘If we stop him, we win the game.’ He had most of their points in the first half and I think he got tired. In the second half, we were wearing him down.”

Maryland also went with a somewhat smaller lineup, as center Qudus Wahab played only eight scoreless minutes after the break.

That had a trickle-down effect of allowing the Terps to repeatedly switch defenders on to Shungu.

“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 forward Ryan Davis had eight points on 3-of-12 shooting. Davis was last season’s America East player of the year but missed the Catamounts’ opening victory Thursday at Northern Iowa.

Saturday's other game

(At) Rutgers 48, Merrimack 35: Ron Harper Jr. and Cliff Omoruyi both had double-doubles and Rutgers rallied in the second half. Harper had 13 points and 11 rebounds to go with Omoruyi’s 11 points and 13 rebounds.

After trailing 23-16 at halftime, Rutgers (2-0) opened the second half with a drawn-out 13-6 run and the score was tied at 29 when the Scarlet Knights’ Harper made one of two free throws at the 9:46 mark. Harper scored in the paint about a minute later, giving Rutgers the lead for good while Merrimack was in the midst of an 8 1/2-minute scoreless drought.

Merrimack (2-1) was stuck on 29 points from the 13:18 mark until Mikey Watkins scored with 4:51 to go. By that time Rutgers was ahead 40-31. Watkins led the Warriors with 12 points.

Rutgers made only five field goals and committed 10 turnovers in the first half. The second half was more than just a turnaround, as Rutgers outscored the Warriors 32-12.

Only five players scored for Rutgers — six for Merrimack — but the Scarlet Knights had a 17-3 advantage in bench scoring. Rutgers shot 31% from the field and Merrimack hit on just 23%.