CORAL GABLES, Fla. | One coach made it to the game when he wasn’t expected to. Another didn’t come close to reaching the finish.
It was all part of a truly bizarre night at BankUnited Center, where Miami outlasted Maryland 90-86 in two overtimes while the Terrapins might have discovered a resilience that could serve them well over the final month of the regular season.
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon was ejected with 7:29 to play and the Terps soon found themselves down 16, only to rally to have a chance to win in regulation while their coach sat in a television-free locker room receiving texts and phone calls while also listening to the rest of the game on a radio.
“Everybody was playing inspired,” said guard Terrell Stoglin, who scored a career-best 33 points. “Everybody was trying to play for coach. We felt it was unfair he got those technicals. We were trying to get the win for him. We knew he couldn’t watch the game so we wanted to go back there and tell him we won the game. That would have been nice.”
Assistant coach Scott Spinelli, who took over after Turgeon was banished to the locker room, said Turgeon was never ejected in the six seasons the pair worked together at Wichita State, Texas A&M and Maryland.
Close, maybe. But if there’s a first time for everything, Turgeon and the Terps (13-8, 3-4 ACC) won’t soon forget.
Turgeon took exception when freshman Nick Faust was called for an offensive foul just after collecting a steal with 7:28 to play. Official Brian Dorsey quickly called a technical foul on Turgeon, then gave the Terps’ first-year coach another one to end his night early.
“I wasn’t trying to get kicked out,” Turgeon said. “I apologize for doing that.”
At the end of his brief postgame remarks, Turgeon was asked if the second technical seemed to come quickly. “And the first one,” he replied.
But it didn’t mark a quick end for Maryland, which trailed 60-46 after the free throws for the technical fouls and then yielded a Reggie Johnson basket on the ensuing possession for the Hurricanes (13-7, 4-3).
Instead, the Terps scored consecutive baskets and got a break of their own when Johnson fouled out on a technical foul to set up a rare six-point possession. Fellow big Raphael Akpejiori fouled out as well moments later, leaving Maryland with a size advantage the rest of the way.
The bigger issue was a press defense the Terps have rarely had the ability, let alone the desire, to deploy this season. Miami committed three straight turnovers in the final three minutes, a sequence that led to Stoglin’s tying 3-pointer with 1:03 to play.
“You never want the head coach to get thrown out of a game,” Spinelli said. “It happens and I think coach Turgeon did it for great purpose, to be quite honest with you. It wasn’t done because he’s a hothead or anything. He did it to get his team fired up and he left it with us assistant coaches to get out guys rallied and they rallied for their head coach.”
It wasn’t just an unusual day for Maryland. Miami played without star forward Kenny Kadji, who suffered a head injury in practice Tuesday. It also almost played without coach Jim Larranaga, who was missed the team shootaround and did not expect to be on the bench after struggling with the flu.
It turned out to be a game not to miss, something a bit different than anyone on either team —- or the announced crowd of 4,611 —- had probably witnessed.
“Never anything like this,” said Miami assistant Eric Konkol, who was set to run the team before Larranaga was waiting for the Hurricanes in the locker room after their final warmups. “It was an amazing day. It feels like a 48-hour day.”
The finish itself wasn’t especially memorable. The Hurricanes made six foul shots in the last 30 seconds to close out Maryland, which had a chance to win in regulation when Stoglin missed a 3-pointer in the final moments.
Of course, Miami could have finished it in the first overtime, only for Malcolm Grant’s 3-pointer to go awry with five seconds remaining.
And so they played on some more, 50 minutes for Maryland to demonstrate it might have, to borrow one of Turgeon’s favorite phrases, the gumption to be a factor down the stretch.
The Terps didn’t collect a win, a reality that didn’t sit well with Stoglin and guard Sean Mosley. But despite a shaky first half, it was hardly a performance to be sorry about.
Or one likely recede from memory soon.
“I was the substitute teacher,” Spinelli said. “I just had the lesson plan and tried to implement what I needed to implement. The guys wanted to play for their head coach, and it shows where our team is headed in the future.”
—- Patrick Stevens