Maryland was up 14. Morgan State looked like it was falling apart. Bears coach Todd Bozeman certainly didn’t seem in control, leaning back in his chair incredulously as Maryland turned a three-point lead into a 54-40 edge in the middle of the second half.
But a funny thing happened. Maryland, quite simply, quit playing intelligently. It hoisted quick shots. It hoisted outside shots.
It hoisted just about everything but a smart shot.
Clank after clank, the shots came, a 3-for-20 stretch to finish things off in a 66-65 loss to Morgan State.
And while the Bears —- and guard Reggie Holmes and his 25 points —- warrant credit for hanging around, this is a game Maryland categorically lost.
The Terps’ first two setbacks came because Gonzaga and Georgetown were better teams. True, Maryland played atrociously against Georgetown. But the Hoyas were still better, even if the margin probably should have been closer.
Not so here. Maryland has only itself to blame for seeing a raucous celebration at the buzzer, which included an impressive chest bump between Rico Myles and Kevin Thompson —- the latter an impressive force inside with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
It was as if Maryland really did forget how little margin of error it enjoys this season. And now that league play has arrived, that reality will be hammered home on a regular basis.
The lesson would have been learned soon enough. But losing at home to Morgan State —- an improving program but hardly a national titan —- means the damage will last quite a bit longer.
—- Patrick Stevens