COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Bothered by the zone defense and slow motion offense put forth by South Carolina State on Saturday, Maryland struggled on offense but performed well enough to take a hard-earned 61-46 win over the Bulldogs.
Alex Len was the only Maryland player to score in double figures, notching 13 points to lead a balanced scoring attack by the Terrapins in a game in which they shot just 37.3 percent (19 of 51) against the Bulldogs’ zone defense.
“I think we had trouble playing against their zone. They just tried to slow us up and get us bored on defense,” said Len, who had three dunks and two layups among his five baskets. “We have to always remained disciplined.”
Maryland (8-1) won its eighth straight game since a season-opening loss to defending national champion Kentucky. The last time the Terrapins won eight games in a row was the 2006-2007 season, when they opened with eight straight wins.
As the Terrapins won their second consecutive game against a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference team, it was also the second straight game that all 14 Maryland players got in the game, 10 of them scoring.
Shaquille Cleare added eight points and eight rebounds for the Terrapins, who also got eight points from Dez Wells.
The Terrapins had 16 assists on 19 baskets and now have dished out 154 assists on 225 baskets during their eight-game winning streak. They also were 18 of 22 from the free throw line and outrebounded the Bulldogs 39-30.
“It wasn’t really a game you could get into very easily,” said Maryland coach Mark Turgeon. “We made free throws, 18 of 22, and our field-goal percentage defense was really good again . Besides that, it wasn’t really a fun game to be a part of, to be honest.”
The Terrapins outscored South Carolina State 28-6 in the paint and 17-0 on second-chance points.
“By the end of the game we figured out how to play against (the zone), so it was a good game,” Len said.
At times, Maryland seemed bothered and bored by the Bulldogs’ slow-down tactics.
“We didn’t make shots that we have been making,” Turgeon said. “We missed layups too. We will run into it again and we will be better because of it the next time a team comes in and does it to us.”
Maryland had just 11 turnovers, its lowest total of the season.
“That was the first time this season we played against an offense like that. I think we played well,” added Wells, who played 21 minutes off the bench. “We executed our offense well and played hard defensively. We outrebounded them and cut down on our turnovers from last game.”
Louie Adams led South Carolina State (4-5) with 15 points, scoring 12 in the second half. Khalif Toombs added 12 points, all on 3-point baskets.
The Bulldogs shot 32.1 percent (17 of 53), but made just three of their first 20 shots and went more than eight minutes in the first half without a basket, falling behind 21-8.
“We wanted to decrease possessions today. . . Our gameplan was to give them one shot by packing our defense in and using our matchup zone,” said South Carolina State head coach Tim Carter, who added that the Bulldogs’ plan was foiled by their own poor shooting.
“When we’re not hitting shots, we’re not going to be very good,” added Carter. “We did a good job defensively. If we had hit our shots it may have been a different game.”
South Carolina State trailed just 11-7 with 13:38 to play in the first half before hitting a cold stretch during which the Bulldogs were outscored 10-1.
Toombs hit back-to-back 3-pointers to close the margin to 21-14 and force Maryland into a timeout. Following the timeout, the Terrapins ran off a 10-0 stretch with Logan Aronhalt and Seth Allen starting the run with 3-pointers for a 27-14 lead.
Maryland scored twice again before the Bulldogs snapped their four-minute scoreless streak with a basket and two free throws over the final minute of the half to close to 31-18 at halftime.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)