CHARLOTTESVILLE | The last of Maryland’s recruited scholarship players departed with more than three minutes remaining Saturday, a merciful reprieve from the final stages of a miserable half.
“I’d just had enough – selfishness, not boxing out, not defending,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “I wanted to do it earlier.”
Alas, there are 40 minutes in a game, and someone had to finish off the final stages of the Terrapins’ 71-44 loss to No. 22 Virginia. Not that a late appearance posse of walk-ons made a bit of difference.
No, Maryland whimpered out of a sold out John Paul Jones Arena with 13 points in the second half, the byproduct of disinterest, Virginia’s suffocating defense and exhaustion from completing a game less than 40 hours before tip.
It was Virginia’s largest margin of victory over Maryland since an 86-59 rout in 1989, and the fewest points the Terps managed against the Cavaliers since a 45-40 overtime setback in 1982.
Terrell Stoglin scored 14 points – all, appropriately enough, in the first half – for the Terps (15-11, 5-7 ACC), who at one stage scored two points in a 16-possession stretch in the second half.
“You can go down our whole list,” Turgeon said. “If you can tell me one guy who played well today, I’ll argue that you’re wrong. We were 0-for-14. It’s a little disappointing.”
Enough so that Turgeon acknowledged it stirred echoes of Maryland’s early-season trip to Puerto Rico, when it couldn’t score against Alabama or defend against Iona.
It did both to a reasonable degree early against the Cavaliers (20-6, 7-5), hitting seven 3-pointers in the first half – nearly all contested, including Nick Faust’s just before the break to forge a 31-all tie – to answer the work of forward Mike Scott (25 points).
“[We said] if you can make those all game, well, there’s not any defense that can stop that,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “I just kept challenging them to have that intensity from start to finish.”
After seizing a brief 33-31 lead out of the half, Maryland sputtered. And sputtered.
Virginia wisely opted to try to exhaust Stoglin. The sophomore was marking Sammy Zeglinski, who zipped around the court as the Cavaliers patiently waited for open shots to present themselves.
The Terps eventually switched Stoglin onto point guard Jontel Evans, but he was already weary. And as has been the case at several other junctures this season, no one else was capable of scoring in bunches.
“We just couldn’t get rolling in the second half as a team,” guard Sean Mosley said.
That went for anyone on a roster still harboring some postseason hopes despite a short-handed roster.
It was Maryland’s third game since Pe’Shon Howard was lost for the season with a torn ligament in his right knee, and the Terps’ frontcourt generally struggled both to contain Scott and find any offensive chances against the Cavaliers.
“Emotionally, I just feel like we didn’t give it our all,” Mosley said. “For a guy who’s won a lot of games here at the University of Maryland, I know what it takes to win. I’ve been on a lot of winning teams. It’s not easy to win. It’s very hard. Once guys start to understand that, I think that will be the turning point of our season.”
Time is running out. Maryland has four games over the final two weeks of the regular season, including Virginia’s return trip next month.
Of course, Maryland won’t have another rapid turnaround unless it advances in the ACC tournament. It won’t bus several hours to a game during rush hour.
But it will have the same roster for the finishing stretch, starting with Tuesday’s visit from Miami.
“We got tired,” Turgeon said. “But give them credit. We looked a little tired to start the second half and then we couldn’t finish. It’s where we are, guys. It’s unfortunate. Hopefully, we’ll play better on Tuesday.”