This recap was written by Terrapin Station MD staff writer Steven Ulrich. Give him a follow @StevieU22 for insight on the Terps as well as other thought on local sports.
If the term Maryland could be used to describe something other than a place, you could say that the Terps lost its regular season finale in OT to UVA in typical Maryland fashion. Terps fans need not seek a Webster’s Dictionary to know that the word Maryland no longer just describes the 7th state admitted to the Union. It seems the term Maryland is now defined as a state of unbalanced emotion; incredible highs followed by disappointing lows; Jump-for-joy performances followed by infuriating dramas; jaw-dropping highlights followed by head-shaking sights. It’s no wonder many Terps fans find themselves saying at the end of a game “that’s so Maryland”or “typical Maryland” or “that’s Maryland for ya!” Perhaps head coach Mark Turgeon said it best himself describing Maryland’s inconsistent ways: “That’s what we do.”
Indeed coach; it’s what Maryland has done best all season. Maryland’s overtime loss to border rival Virginia was a true testament to that statement. If you watched the first half, you were witnessing sparks of potential this MD team has. Feelings of unlimited possibilities swarmed your inner thoughts, and at one point, you might have felt that this team is well on its way to brilliance. If you watched the second half, you were reminded that Maryland’s flashy peaks are just a tease; souvenirs of fantasies Terp fans have of what this team is capable of. The fact of the matter is, despite all their talent and promise, this MD team is too erratic and inconsistent. If you watched the overtime, your“typical Maryland” feelings were all but confirmed.
Maryland started out on fire; their defense was stifling, their offense was unrelenting, and their energy was evident. They communicated on defense and took care of the ball on offense (something that has been an issue all season). This gritty defense and steady offense lead to a 19-2 run and a 13 point lead at the half. In essence, Maryland looked like a team that belonged in the NCAA tournament. They were led by Nick Faust who scored 13 of his 15 points in the first 12 minutes of the game. Jake Layman pitched in 8 points while the Terps defense held Joe Harris to 1-7 shooting. MD dominated inside, outscoring UVA 16-8 in the paint and was +12 on the boards.
Tony Bennett may not get a ton of recognition for his in-game adjustments, but just like the first matchup against the Terps, Bennett made adjustments to his offensive game plan, and it worked. The Cavaliers first five possessions in the 2nd half were as follows: Akil Mitchell tip-in, free-throws, free-throws, missed 5-footer, free-throws. Needless to say, Bennett’s message to his team was to drive and pound it inside. Virginia made it clear that they were not afraid of Alex Len in the paint, and their lack of fear of Maryland’s bigs lead to five MD team fouls in the first 3:15 and 20 2nd half FT attempts. On defense, Maryland’s bigs were getting chipped out of position and boxed out with ease, leading UVA to outrebound Maryland 22-16 in the second half. After just shooting 1-7, Joe Harris finished with 15 points, while Mike Tobey and Akil Mitchell had their way with MD’s big men, scoring 15 and 17 points respectively.
Dez Wells did his best to keep Maryland’s lead intact, almost single-handedly becoming the Terps only offensive option. Wells finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds, while Alex Len finished with 10 points and 7 rebounds. There’s not much to write about after that; Faust scored his only basket 12 minutes into the 2nd half while the bench only contributed five made baskets for the game (add to the fact that Pe’Shon contributed 0 points and two assists). All in all, the Terps shot 8 for 32 (25%) for the 2nd half and overtime and just four assists to six turnovers.
The Turning Point:
After an Alex Len slam put the Terps up by 13 in the 2ndhalf, Pe’Shon Howard was charged with a technical foul for yelling at the Virginia fans. After two made free-throws by Joe Harris, the lead was cut to eleven. After Len made 1 of 2 free-throws, Justin Anderson responded with a two-hand follow-up slam that not only cut the MD lead to 10, but reenergized the crowd. MD was clearly on edge following Anderson’s slam, as their confidence visibly disappeared and their offense suddenly became one-on-one basketball, leading to one shot opportunities. It was clear that MD simply did not know how to respond (a common trait of a young team), especially on offense. There was a lot of standing around, ball-watching, and ill-advised shots. Whether the Terps were running set plays by Turgeon or not, it was evident that MD did not execute.
What’s Next on the Agenda?
With Maryland finishing below .500 in the ACC for the third consecutive year (first time since ’91-’93), Maryland gets the #7 seed in the ACC Tournament and will face off against the #10 seed Wake Forest at 7 p.m. this Thursday. If the Terps happen to pull off the win, they’ll have a date with the Duke Blue Devils this Friday at 7 p.m. Let’s hope MD gets to this point before we look any further.