Maryland needed some time to get its offense going Wednesday night against Notre Dame. The third-ranked Terrapins’ defense, though, was never a problem.
Maryland held the Fighting Irish below 30 percent shooting in both halves, Jalen Smith had 15 points and a career-high 16 rebounds and the Terps cruised to a 72-51 victory in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at College Park, Maryland.
Notre Dame scored only four points in a span of 12:31 in the first half, struggling to find any decent looks against Maryland’s deep, lengthy, rangy rotation.
“I feel like it’s starting to become our identity,” sophomore guard Eric Ayala said. “We lock in defensively, our offense feeds off of that and we get out in transition and we make plays. It’s fun when we can just turn it on like that and everybody is just so into it on the defensive end.”
Ayala scored 14 points and Aaron Wiggins added 11 for the Terrapins (9-0), who are off to their best start since winning 10 in a row to open the 1998-99 season.
John Mooney had 17 points and 12 rebounds for Notre Dame (6-2), which had won six in a row since opening the season with a loss at North Carolina.
“That was varsity versus the JV,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “We were the JV. The varsity toyed with us. Hopefully we can rebound because we have a league game on Saturday, but I’m really impressed with them. The sky’s the limit for them.”
Maryland trailed 9-4 early on, but its defense ensured the Irish was never comfortable.
Ayala scored seven points in a row to turn a one-point game into a 21-13 lead, and later delivered a tomahawk slam a minute before the break. Wiggins capped the half by getting the carom from his missed 3-pointer and slamming it home for a 32-20 lead.
“We were kind of walking on eggshells offensively at the start,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “We weren’t aggressive enough, and we have to be a little bit more aggressive out of the chute.”
Smith recorded his fifth double-double of the season, matching his total from all of last season.
He was vital in the defensive effort, matching his career high with five blocks. Wiggins swatted three shots and helped harass Notre Dame guard T.J. Gibbs into a scoreless night with 11 missed field goals. Gibbs entered the night averaging 12 points.
“I think we’re much tougher than we were last year,” Turgeon said. “We could get pushed around last year and now we’re a much more physical team.”
Notre Dame never cut the deficit to less than 10 in the second half as Maryland snapped a six-game skid in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, a streak that began when the Terps were still in the ACC.
EVANSVILLE 90, W. ILLINOIS 86
DeAndre Williams scored 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds as Evansville beat Western Illinois.
Jawaun Newton’s 3-pointer with 1:07 left to play put the Purple Aces up for good, 88-86, and K.J. Riley iced it with two free throws.
Sam Cunliffe had 15 points and six rebounds and Riley added 10 points for Evansville (6-3), which made 15 3-pointers.
Kobe Webster had 19 points for the Leathernecks (2-6). Ben Pyle added 18 points and nine rebounds and C.J. Duff had 14 points.
MOREHEAD ST. 56, IUPUI 51
Jordan Walker had 12 points and six assists as Morehead State narrowly beat IUPUI.
Justin Thomas had 10 points and seven rebounds for Morehead State (5-4), which earned its fourth consecutive home victory. LJ Bryan added 11 rebounds. James Baker had seven rebounds for the hosts.
Grant Weatherford had 17 points for the Jaguars (2-7), who have now lost five games in a row. Jaylen Minnett added 13 points. Elyjah Goss had 4 points and 17 rebounds.
Marcus Burk, whose 23 points per game heading into the matchup led the Jaguars, scored only 8 points on 3-of-12 shooting.
PFW 74, E. ILLINOIS 69
Jarred Godfrey had 20 points as Purdue Fort Wayne narrowly defeated Eastern Illinois.
Marcus DeBerry had 12 points for Purdue Fort Wayne (6-5), which earned its fourth consecutive win. Brian Patrick added 11 points and six rebounds. Matt Holba had 10 points for the home team.
Marvin Johnson had 16 points for the Panthers (4-4). Mack Smith added 12 points and Josiah Wallace 10.
NO. 14 INDIANA 58, NO. 21 MIAMI 45
Jaelynn Penn scored 17 points, Ali Patberg had 12 points, five rebounds and six assists, and No. 14 Indiana beat 21st-ranked Miami in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Patberg scored 12 points in the first half as Indiana led 31-25, and Penn added seven points in the third quarter to make it 46-35.
Aleksa Gulbe had 10 points and eight rebounds for Indiana (7-1), which played its third ranked opponent in four outings.
Penn gave Indiana a 13-point lead late in the third quarter, but Miami scored the next seven points — all at the free-throw line — to pull within six with 4:18 remaining. Brenna Wise and Penn each made a 3-pointer a minute apart and Penn sank six free throws in the final 1:17 to seal it.
Endia Banks scored 13 points for Miami (5-3). Beatrice Mompremier, averaging 18.1 points and 8.6 rebounds, was held to 11 points on 3-of-11 shooting.