Nearly every time Maryland coach Gary Williams stepped to his postgame podium after a demolition of an overmatched foe in the last month, he stressed the importance of rebounding.
Last night provided all the evidence needed to understand Williams’ increasing, ever-present concern.
The Terrapins were mauled inside in a 63-58 loss to struggling Miami at Comcast Center, a defeat that featured a humbling 55-41 rebounding deficit and sloppy, foul-filled play on both sides.
“You can make excuses, you can say a lot of things, but I think there’s some facts from this game,” coach Gary Williams said. “Maybe our inside guys have to do a better job rebounding, maybe our guards have to come in and help us more on the glass. You can be in denial, but in these situations you have to accept the truth. We got our butts kicked on the glass. It’s as simple as that.”
The Terps (14-3, 0-2 ACC) yielded 21 offensive boards to an undermanned Miami team without injured forward Anthony King that had been outrebounded in its last five games and allowed the Hurricanes (9-8, 2-1) to extend several possessions with their lackluster effort.
Maryland’s offense wasn’t any better. The 58-point output was the lowest in a home game in Williams’ 18 seasons. Maryland shot an abysmal 22.4 percent (13-for-58) from the floor.
“We have to be able to finish layups and make open jump shots and rebound the ball,” senior guard D.J. Strawberry said. “That’s what other teams do. We didn’t do that. It’s fundamental things that got us here and our coach expects us to do. The reason he gave us a scholarship was to put the ball in the basket when we have our opportunities. Rebounding’s been hurting us all year. Tonight we just got killed on the boards.”
It was a deflating moment for a Maryland team that yearned to continue conference play before last night’s flop. It was also surprising since the Terps had a month to dwell on a loss at Boston College. Never mind the five nonconference victories Maryland rolled up in the interim; the sting of that setback was never too far away.
This one will stick around for a while, too.
The misfiring offense particularly affected Strawberry. The Terps’ leading scorer averaged more than 20 points over the last five games but was held without a point until he made two foul shots with 2:45 left. He finished with seven points.
“Coming out and playing like that is disappointing,” Strawberry said. “Not being able to finish layups and giving up second shots, those are things players at this level do. We just have to look at ourselves.”
The Hurricanes dominated the interior for much of the game. The Terps played a part, fumbling several rebounds out of bounds to give Miami extra opportunities.
Maryland trailed for much of the second half, and an inability to run its offense with any efficiency was a major culprit. The Terps didn’t make a shot from the floor for more than nine minutes after Bambale Osby’s layup with 9:36 left, staying close only because they made 10 straight free throws.
Even then, the Terps still trailed 49-47 when Miami’s Anthony Harris drove to the basket with 1:41 left. Maryland’s Greivis Vasquez hoisted a quick 3-pointer at the other end, and Harris proceeded to make two foul shots for a six-point edge.
The final minute was little more than a procession to the foul line, extending the misery for a team that did little to prove it was truly prepared for the rigors of conference play. Instead, the Terps endured the insult of the crowd filing out of the arena a few seconds early and a derisive cheer for Strawberry’s layup with 2.4 seconds left that ended the field goal drought.