Rutgers completely outmatched in 88-63 loss to Maryland in College Park


sanders
Photo by Edwin Gano |

Freshman guard Corey Sanders looks for an open teammate as he dribbles on the perimeter in Rutgers 88-63 loss to No. 3 Maryland. Sanders came off the bench for the second straight contest but still led the team in scoring with 16 points following two late 3-pointers.


COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The members of the Rutgers men’s basketball team are probably not the biggest fans of playing in the heart of the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area.

After getting crushed by 34 points at George Washington on Dec. 12 in the nation’s capital, the Scarlet Knights (6-10, 0-3) were once again outmatched in the beltway area, this time at the hands of No. 3 Maryland in Wednesday night's 25-point drubbing of an 88-63 loss.

The loss stings a bit more for senior center Greg Lewis. The Baltimore, Maryland, native had his homecoming spoiled for the second time since last season.

“It was good to be back home and play in front of my family, my mom and dad, but I was just trying to get the win,” he said.

Photo: Edwin Gano

Graduate transfer guard Omari Grier gets fouled as his layup attempt is emphatically blocked by senior forward Jake Layman (#10). Grier was one of four Knights in double-figures, finishing the night with 13 points.

Entering the game with seven scholarship players, including just two players taller than 6-foot-4 in Lewis and sophomore forward D.J. Foreman, the monumental task of upsetting the Terps (14-1, 3-0) in front of 17,950 at the XFinity Center seemed downright impossible for the Knights.

Ultimately, the lack of size killed Rutgers on both ends of the floor throughout the 40 minutes.

On the defensive end, the Knights were bullied by 6-foot-9 forward Robert Carter and Big Ten Player/Freshman of the Week in 6-foot-11 center Diamond Stone, who scored 12 and 15 points, respectively.

To no one’s surprise, Maryland’s size allowed it to handily outscore Rutgers in the paint, 36-22, and on second-chance opportunities, 15-7, after grabbing 18 offensive rebounds.

While the Knights were dominated inside, they did a decent job defending the perimeter — the Terrapins shot just 30 percent from beyond the arc.

At the other end of the court, Rutgers struggled both inside and out of the paint. Aside from Foreman, who was a perfect 3-for-3 from the floor and 4-for-4 from free-throw line to finish with 10 points, the Knights lacked any legitimate solutions on the offensive end.

Without size, Rutgers first tried scoring from downtown, but it wasn’t very effective as it finished with a 38-percent clip. 

When it tried to go inside and attack the rim, the results were far from optimal.

With 17:30 remaining in the contest, graduate transfer guard Omari Grier attempted an up-and-under layup, but Maryland senior forward Jake Layman viciously swatted the shot away like he was spiking a set in a volleyball match.

While the block did not show up on the final box score — Layman fouled Grier in the process of blocking him — the play summarized the game perfectly. 

Despite their best attempts, the Knights could not do anything to topple the home team.

***

While the game didn’t run in its favor, Rutgers could not be faulted for its effort.

Down by 42 points with 8:49 remaining in the contest, the Knights did not hang their heads and continues to chip away at their deficit. Instead, they went on a 15-2 run to reduce the deficit to 29 and outscored their hosts 28-11 to close the game with a 25-point loss.

While part of Rutgers' sudden dominance is pinned on Maryland resting its starters and placing its second unit on the floor — something head coach Eddie Jordan acknowledged in his postgame press conference — the effort and spirit from the Knights was not overlooked.

“I appreciate (Maryland head coach) Mark (Turgeon) for understanding where we are and he sort of in a good sense pulled back the hounds a little bit,” Jordan said. “I liked the way our kids competed.”

Jordan told his troops to not consider the score or individual stats at the half, and instead focus on their energy and focus and spirit.

“Coming to the locker room at halftime, Coach (Jordan) was just stressing that we just need to come out and play with spirit … so that’s what we did,” said freshman guard Corey Sanders. “We just tried to come out and play level-headed and be positive and see what we could do to cut down their lead.”

***

For the second consecutive game, Jordan elected to start senior guard Bishop Daniels in place of Sanders.

After starting every game following his self-imposed 1-game suspension in the season opener against Rutgers-Newark after participating in a non-sanctioned basketball event over the summer, Sanders has come off the bench for Rutgers in its past two contests.

Jordan said the freshman guard had to “taste some humble pie” as reason to bench his leading scorer in Rutgers 22-point loss to Wisconsin Saturday.

Following his team’s 88-63 loss to Maryland Wednesday, he gave indication that his most highly-touted recruit will return to the starting line-up Saturday against Nebraska.

“(Not starting Sanders) was a continuation of trying to get on the same page as far as representing everything about Rutgers and he got there now,” Jordan said.

Sanders feels like his performance and demeanor earned him another shot in the starting line-up and understood what message Jordan was sending his way — a message he heard loud and clear.

“I’m just going with the flow,” Sanders said. “I’m not really too worried about it. I think today, I earned my spot back. It was just, Coach (Jordan) wanted to make sure I was doing everything right, a little wake up call.”

For updates on the Rutgers men’s basketball team, follow @briannnnf and @TargumSports on Twitter.


Brian Fonseca

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