Who’s up for a preview of the last print edition game story in the Washington Times’ sports department’s history?
If you’re a Maryland fan, you probably don’t.
After all, William & Mary just joined American, Ohio and Morgan State in the Facebook group “Mid-Majors who have won at Comcast Center, 2007-present”
Anyway, here’s the gamer. I’ll have a few more items in the next 24 hours before the plug gets pulled for good.
The penultimate day of 2009 doled out to the Maryland basketball program the same sort of punishment the year’s first week provided.
Namely, a loss the Terrapins will have difficulty living down.
It wasn’t that William & Mary became the fourth nonconference team in three seasons to leave Comcast Center with a victory. It was the totality of the 83-77 win, the sheer control the Tribe demonstrated for much of the game.
Not to mention the Terps’ frequent foibles – in handling a perimeter-oriented opponent, in missing 3-pointer after 3-pointer and in showing complete ambivalence to defense for much of the night – that led Maryland (8-4) to endure chants of “C-A-A” in its own building.
“It does anger me, because really they didn’t do anything special to get the points,” forward Landon Milbourne said. “That was us. It’s different when they run the play real well or they’re just absolutely better than us. That’s different. Maybe you might find a way to accept something like that. That wasn’t the case. That was just us giving up. That was just us not playing hard. That’s what’s disappointing about it.”
Quinn McDowell scored 28 points and Danny Sumner added 17 for the Tribe (9-2), who won their ninth straight and collected a victory in College Park to match a triumph last month at Wake Forest.
In short, William & Mary is probably better than the Ohio and American outfits that secured pre-Christmas wins against the Terps in 2007. And the Tribe are crisp enough to likely turn out even better than Morgan State, which dealt Maryland a loss just after the calendar turned to 2009.
But this was in some ways more audacious than those stumbles, considering the listless display the Terps put on for much of the night.
“They seemed to play with more enthusiasm,” Maryland coach Gary Williams said. “We’re not the type of team that can show up and go through the motions. That’s my responsibility.”
The problems were apparent in several facets as the Tribe built a 39-30 halftime lead and eventually led by as many as 16. Maryland, beset with rebounding issues throughout the season, barely held an edge on the glass against William & Mary.
But the real issues revolved around the perimeter. The Terps, offered the opportunity for semi-decent looks from outside, happily hoisted 3-pointers on an ice-cold night that was even chillier inside the arena.
Maryland was a meager 4-for-25 from 3-point territory, frequently taking ill-advised shots to the delight of the savvy Tribe.
“We didn’t have the patience or the toughness to go inside with the basketball,” Williams said. “It turned into a shooting contest and they won.”
Indeed. William & Mary’s halftime edge was built on the strength of 6-for-13 shooting from outside. While that sizzling work didn’t carry into the second half, the Tribe took a more basic approach: Making free throws (25-for-31) and breezing past the Terps off the dribble.
When Maryland pulled within seven, McDowell drove from the perimeter for a layup with 9:26 left. It ignited a 14-5 run capped when David Schneider pulled the exact same move at the 4:55 mark.
“They played every aspect of the game better than us tonight,” guard Eric Hayes said.
It’s a harsh truth sure to follow Maryland straight up to Selection Sunday, just as the Ohio and American setbacks haunted the Terps in 2008 and the Morgan State misstep on the eve of conference play was repeatedly referenced for two months.
Sure, the Tribe is better than those outfits. But after a display of disinterest that included 2-for-9 efforts from outside by both Hayes and Greivis Vasquez, the Terps are right back in a familiar – but wholly discomforting – position as the year winds to a close.
“I have to be more efficient and I definitely have to be a better leader because I want to go to the tournament,” Vasquez said. “Right now, we’re not looking very good.”
– Patrick Stevens