Alex Len (25) scored 16 points along with 9 rebounds and 6 blocks. Len is slated as a top 10 lottery pick in this year’s NBA Draft, and more than likely played his last college game.
What has haunted the Terps all season long is what ultimately led to their season’s demise. Maryland committed 16 turnovers, including 10 in the opening half, and their sloppy play led to a 71-60 defeat at the hands of the Hawkeyes. The loss closes the book on the Terps 2012-2013 season as they fail to reach their goal of getting to the NIT Championship. The Terps reverted back to their old selves, and although they were never truly out of the contest, thy simply could never get over the hump and close it to a one possession game.
Maryland was led by Alex Len, who more than likely played his last game for the red and white (and black and gold). Len logged 16 points, 9 rebounds and 6 blocks while Nick Faust contributed 14 points, but shot just 36% from the floor. Dez Wells added 9 points and 4 rebounds, but also shot a disappointing 36% from the field. The two guards, who have been linchpins in Maryland’s recent success, would combine to shoot 36% from the floor, 29% from 3-point range, and 3-8 (37%) from the free-throw line. As a team, the Terps would go on to shoot 56% from the free-throw line, costing them several opportunities to cut into Iowa’s lead.
The Hawkeyes were led by none other than Roy Devyn Marble, who continued his stellar tournament play with 21 points and 9 rebounds. Marble has now scored 21 points or more in four NIT games, averaging over 24 points per game. Eric May, who has been relatively quiet during NIT action, contributed 12 points to go with his 5 assists and 4 rebounds. Aaron White added 10 points and 8 rebounds, continuing his steady play as of late as well. As a result, Iowa will play in the NIT Championship for the first time in school history.
The 1st Half:
Maryland’s quick 4-0 lead was quickly wiped out as the Terps committed 4 turnovers on their next four possessions. Maryland had 6 turnovers in fewer than 5 minutes and 9 turnovers in their first 11 possessions, causing Iowa to convert easy baskets in transition, get to the free-throw line, and stretch their lead to double digits early. What made the turnovers more frustrating was that the majority of them were unforced. The Terps were plagued by tons of lazy, telegraphed passes, balls being dribbled off of their own foot, and players losing control of the ball when driving or going up for the shot. What was remarkable was that in spite of 11 1st half turnovers and a 15-1 free-throw advantage favoring Iowa, Maryland only trailed by 5 at the half.
Iowa had 18 points off of Maryland’s turnovers while only committing 1 turnover themselves. It is what aided Roy Devyn Marble scoring 10 points in the game’s first 6 minutes and Iowa’s lead reaching double digits before the second media timeout. With 5 minutes left in the 1st half, Iowa had reached its largest lead at 14. But Maryland showed resiliency, thanks in part to Logan Aronhalt (who was a game time decision due to a stomach virus) and his 9 points on 3-5 shooting. The Terps closed out the 1st half on a 14-5 run, highlighted by a Dez Wells slam on the break as time expired.
Score: Iowa 38 – Maryland 33
The 2nd Half:
Maryland’s 2nd half game plan was obvious, as the Terps attempted 7 free-throws in the first 5:45 of the half. Turgeon wanted Maryland’s guards to pound it inside with Len, who was starting to get into a groove both on offense and defense. The issue was that Maryland’s guards still had not figured out how to solve Iowa’s aggressive zone defense. With Seth Allen on the sidelines, Maryland lacked a point man that could drive to the basket with ease and dish or take the contact and score. This was apparent with Pe’Shon Howard, who lacked the speed to beat his defender off the dribble, and tried to force passes down low too many times. It was also evident with Faust, who had the athleticism to beat his guy off the dribble, but often tried to do too much by himself, resulting in turnovers or wasted possessions.
Although Maryland was able to balance the free-throw discrepancy from the 1st half, the Terps missed 7 free-throw attempts in the 2nd half. On the other end, Iowa converted 7 of 9 free-throw attempts, and Maryland was running out of ways to cut into Iowa’s lead. The Terps defense was also running out of gas, as they gave way to 24 combined 2nd half points between Marble, White and Eric May. The three Hawkeyes accounted for 73% of Iowa’s 2nd half points.
In spite of the countless mistakes, Maryland was able to cut the Iowa lead to 4. But as Maryland’s ongoing “one step forward, two steps back” aphorism of the night continued, the Terps followed with 3 turnovers and missed their next 7 attempts. But as soon as the Hawkeyes lead would reach double digits, the Terps would continue to battle, cutting the lead to 5 late in the 2nd half. But Maryland would close out the game scoring on only 2 of their last 6 possessions, including 2 missed free-throw attempts.
Score: Iowa 71 – Maryland 60
In the end, Maryland was their own worst enemy. Their talent kept them in the game, but their immaturity cost them too many possessions, and ultimately the game. It was a microcosm of the Terps season, a “Jekyll & Hyde” reflection that is common amongst young teams that are made up of freshmen and sophomores. Maryland is young, and (barring any unforeseen attrition) has plenty to look forward to next season. However, coach Turgeon will have to clean some things up if the Terps hope to go dancing in 2014.