Maryland opened its Big Ten season with a 70-64 win over the upset-minded Penn State Nittany Lions, thanks in large part to an excellent performance from Diamond Stone. The freshman center from Milwaukee set a school record for points scored by a Maryland freshman with 39, surpassing Joe Smith’s second-highest amount of 33. Stone made the biggest impact on the offensive boards, pulling down a game-high 8 (12 overall). On a horrific shooting night for the ‘Terps, Stone’s rebounds created extra possessions and often resulted in free throws, of which he converted 19 of his 25 attempts.
Much like last season, Penn State gave the Terrapins all it could handle, leading the game for most of the night. In the first half, the Nittany Lions repeatedly drove the ball to the hoop, creating drive/ dish opportunities and/or simple layups without much resistance. Senior Brandon Taylor had a excellent game from inside and outside, putting up 15 and 10. Sophomores Shep Garner and Payton Banks pitched in 17 and 15 points, respectively.
The start of the 2nd half was the turning point, when Maryland picked up its intensity en route to a 10-2 run that tied the game. Before then, the ‘Terps were giving up offensive rebounds and easy drives. Despite Penn State’s resiliance, you could feel the momentum swing over to Maryland’s side. Maryland’s size and overall talent eventually took over to propel them to a 6-point victory. This game showed Maryland’s resilience and ability to rely on other factors of the game besides shooting. Coming into this matchup, Maryland was one of the nation’s best shooting teams, connecting on 50% of its field goal attempts and over 40% of threes, but only shot 33.3% and 23.8%, respectively tonight. Overall, this was a solid effort heading into the new year.
What does this game mean for Diamond Stone:
This game could prove to be Stone’s launching pad into secondary star status. Prior to today’s game, Stone put up solid but inconsistent production, which is expected given that he is a freshman. The talent is undoubtedly there, and the experience is catching up with every passing game. Stone possess one-and-done talent, and will likely (SHOULD) be drafted somewhere in the lottery. But as tantalizing as his talent may be, it is his coachability and team-first attitude that really stick out. Personally asking Mark Turgeon to come off the bench to make the team better is just one of many examples of this trait.
The ‘Terps next conference game will be on Saturday against the 13-1 Northwestern Wildcats, whose lone loss came against North Carolina. Maryland will be hoping for a better start, especially because it will be a road game.