In a span of 57 seconds early in the first half Saturday against Purdue, Damonte Dodd’s afternoon was all but over . That was the amount of time it took for the 6-foot-11 sophomore center to pick up two fouls on the same possession, and even though he re-entered the game twice after that, he was sent back to the bench each time after two more quick and cheap fouls.
Dodd logged just two minutes and finished with four fouls, which forced Coach Mark Turgeon to get creative with his rotation against the hulking front court of Purdue. And after a difficult first half in which it faced foul trouble and defensive issues on the interior, Maryland’s depth came through in the 69-60 win over Purdue. The Terrapins scored 28 points off the bench — but it was how they handled the loss of Dodd that was maybe more significant.
Purdue’s formidable size was unlike anything Maryland had faced in its previous 16 games – and Turgeon had to rely on reserves Michal Cekovsky, Jon Graham and Evan Smotrycz to handle 7-foot-2 freshman center Isaac Haas, who was backed up by 7-foot junior center A.J. Hammons. It was rocky at times (Cekovsky picked up two fouls early), but Maryland was able to draw four fouls on both Haas and Hammons midway through the second half, sending both to the bench. And while Purdue had a 38-31 advantage, including 15 offensive boards, Maryland held both Haas and Hammons to modest offensive totals. The pair each hit just two field goals and finished with six points apiece.
“We played smart defensively. We helped on the post. Once we decided that we were going to compete on the boards a little bit better, we could get control of the game. It was a great win for us,” Turgeon said.
Turgeon said it was Cekovsky’s(four points) best college game, and although Smotrycz struggled with his shooting (1 for 6), he lauded the senior for being “so smart defensively” throughout the game. Graham played 21 minutes and had a key bucket with just over two minutes remaining to give Maryland an eight-point lead.
Maryland scored 28 points off the bench Saturday. That included nine from freshman Dion Wiley, who took just one three-pointer and showed a flair with his midrange game (he took and made just one three-pointer). And Richaud Pack, who Turgeon replaced with the 6-foot-7 freshman Jared Nickens in the starting lineup, came off the bench and scored 11 points.
“It was different, because I kind of have gotten used to [starting] this season, but I’ve been sixth man on a lot of different teams. So I still felt my role was important, so it didn’t change my intensity,” Pack said. “It almost felt like I wasn’t coming off the bench.”