Scott scores 20 second-half points in Maryland’s comeback win over Michigan

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COLLEGE PARK — Both Michigan and Maryland took the court Thursday night at Xfinity Center seeking their first win of the year.   

The Terrapins and their near-Big Ten-worst offense are still searching for answers in many aspects. But their most tenured player reached deep in the well and found some magic when Maryland needed it the most.

Forward Donta Scott scored 20 of his game-high 22 points in the second half in a vintage performance to lead Maryland to a come-from-behind win over Michigan, 64-57.

Scott, who has struggled for much of the season after returning to College Park for a fifth year, had only two points in the first 20 minutes. But something changed in the second half, and Scott became the dominant inside and outside force many Maryland fans will remember him for when his career is done. 

“He had some good looks in the first half, and we struggled in the first half, and I think he was he was upset with himself at halftime,” Maryland coach Kevin Willard said, “and he came out and he was very, very animated in the huddle before we went out, and he just did what a senior does.”

Scott scored 10 points in the first 10 minutes after halftime, and nearly half of Maryland’s total (43) in the second half as the Terrapins overcame a 12-point halftime deficit to snap a two-game losing streak. It’s the first double-digit halftime comeback win for the Terrapins (10-6, 2-3 Big Ten) in four years.

“I don’t think I really lifted up the rest of the team, I feel like they lifted me up more than I lifted them up,” Scott said. “And once I got going and energy started kicking in, then everybody started to feed off my energy and that’s when we just started going.”

Guard Jahmir Young finished with 12 points with 10 of those in the first half, with forward Julian Reese notching his seventh double-double of the season with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Willard said that’s the Maryland team he sees in practice – the one that’s a more balanced, successful scoring team than their statistics bear. 

“I guess that’s where I get frustrated at times. That’s the way that group plays most of the time in practice,” Willard said. “I just think it’s sometimes because we struggled to shoot so, so much, that struggle has just led to everything else struggling. So sometimes you just gotta see the ball go in the hoop and I think that was that was the magic elixir, to be honest with you.”

Michigan was led by forward Olivier Nkamhoua’s 18 points and 10 from Gonzaga College High School grad Terrance Williams II. The Wolverines (6-10, 1-4) played without leading scorer and D.C. native Dug McDaniel, who was serving the first game of a six-game road suspension for academic reasons.

Both teams started tentatively, with a Scott steal and slam dunk over Jaelin Llewellyn, McDaniel’s replacement in the starting lineup, the highlight of the early action and a 7-6 Terrapins lead.

Maryland and Michigan then combined for zero points over a three-plus-minute stretch near the midway point of the first half, with the Terrapins going scoreless for nearly seven minutes.

“The fans aren’t going to cheer because you keep getting defensive stops, it just, that’s not the way fans work. They want to see the ball go in the hoop. And I said, I mean, we held them to seven points, but we have six at home. It’s kind of mind boggling. So eventually, they just relaxed and seeing the ball go in really helped.

The Maryland backcourt pulled the Terrapins out of the hole, with DeShawn Harris-Smith and Young combining for their next three buckets and a 15-13 lead. Harris-Smith scored 10 points in 34 minutes of action, his highest output in nearly a month.

What minimal energy Maryland had was sapped — and quickly. Michigan racked up 10 points in a mere 88 seconds, buoyed by threes from Will Tschetter and Williams. 

The 14-2 run put the Wolverines up 27-17 with 4 minutes left in the first half. Michigan made 8 of its last 10 shots in the frame to hold a 33-21 lead at halftime. The Terrapins shot a miserable 1-11 from three in the first half, with Young’s rattler with 2:24 remaining the only one to go. Maryland also tallied more turnovers (9) than made field goals (8) in the first half, but Willard was able to show his team in the locker room that there were opportunities available.

“We watched film at halftime, so we just we just watched our offense and saw what was open, where we were open,” Willard said. “You have to show them sometimes like, hey, you guys are getting good shots. We’re going to make shots, just keep doing things.”

After the break is when Scott came to life. He went up against Tschetter most of the night, with one particular moment early in the second backfiring in the Michigan forward’s face. 

“I felt like I tried to take a charge,” Scott said about a play where Tschetter backed him down for a layup. “Normally they say on the second bump they’re gonna go around, but normally they give you the charge, which I got a majority of the time. But the staredown is what got me.”

Less than a minute later, the Philadelphia native hit only the second Maryland three in 13 tries, then Julian Reese stole the ensuing inbound and laid it up to narrow the Michigan lead to three, 39-36. Tschetter wouldn’t score again, and would soon after commit his third and fourth fouls, subjecting him to the bench for most of the half.

“After I stared him down, I knew he couldn’t stop me,” Scott said. 

A veritable and rare explosion of long-distance shots broke out, with Scott hitting from three again, followed by one by Jaime Kaiser Jr. to cut the deficit to one, 43-42. Scott added two more threes, making his final four from that range after missing his first three attempts. He finished 6-of-10 shooting, and 4-of-7 from three.

“I already knew I could not make shots. It was just a matter of time before I did,” Scott said. “And once I made them, I already knew that I could make a couple more once I got them up. So I said, why not?”

The outburst stunned Michigan, who kept within striking distance but finished 2-of-10 from the floor to close the game and didn’t score in the final 2:38.

“I feel like since we were able to turn it around, it’s just a some good energy going into the next game and just a building block for what’s to come,” Reese said.

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