- The Washington Times - Monday, December 11, 2006

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — The Maryland basketball team’s first road test hinted at a bonanza of possibilities for the young team this season. Its second — last night’s trip to Boston College — provided a glimpse of the many things that could go wrong.

There were inopportune turnovers, the kind an inexperienced team is expected to make late in games; ghastly shooting from the perimeter, particularly on repeated open looks; and an early mauling on the offensive boards that led to several painfully easy baskets.

Indeed, it was hard to decipher just how the Terps remained tethered to the Eagles, bouncing back repeatedly though never fully catching their hosts. And ultimately no explanation was necessary since Maryland continued to make enough mistakes to allow Boston College to pull away for a 73-62 victory in the ACC opener for both teams.

For the next month — as the No. 23 Terps (9-2, 0-1) plow through the remnants of their nonconference schedule — the setback will remain a reminder of how much they must build on an impressive 8-0 start capped with a fine victory at Illinois that has since yielded to a pair of losses in an eight-day span.

“They gave us chances to win that game, and we didn’t take advantage,” coach Gary Williams said. “We’re not very far away from what we have to do to be able to win that game, but we weren’t good enough tonight.”

Jared Dudley scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Eagles (6-2, 1-0), who have won five straight.

And Dudley was his usual fiery self, frantically emoting from the start to a more-than-receptive Conte Forum crowd.

If only the Terps could have done the same.

Instead, Maryland was generally lackluster as it was abused on the offensive glass and put in a nine-point halftime hole it never fully erased. The Terps also committed 16 turnovers, including more than a few incomprehensible passes and lousy decisions.

“We just didn’t match their intensity, and that’s something we definitely need to work on,” forward Ekene Ibekwe said. “Sometimes you don’t prepare for a game like you should. We thought we were ready, but we definitely weren’t as soon as the ball tipped up.”

The Eagles were. Boston College grabbed 12 offensive rebounds in the first half (18 for the game), including four on one sequence that culminated with a Dudley basket — and more of his animated antics — heading into the final television timeout before the break.

“Whether it’s a rebound or a loose ball, we need to come up with more than we’re getting,” Williams said. “There’s balls that are anybody’s ball, and it seems like we don’t get our share. We just don’t seem to get control. All the sudden they got it, and we’re fouling them or something like that. We have to get stronger going after balls.”

Maryland’s rebounding improved as the night progressed (the final deficit was 43-36), though it was related to the ample chances available for its own offensive rebounds.

The Terps shot 13-for-42 (31 percent) from the floor after an 11-for-20 start, and the problems were primarily on the perimeter. Maryland’s guards were a woeful 10-for-37, and both D.J. Strawberry and Greivis Vasquez suffered through 2-for-10 nights.

“I thought we had really good looks,” Williams said. “You have to knock them down when you’re open.”

For all the Terps’ problems, they remained within a few possessions of the Eagles throughout the second half. Three times Boston College extended its lead to 10 — once after Dudley celebrated an eventual 3-point play with some high fives for fans in the front row of the sellout crowd of 8,606.

Yet Maryland always schemed its way back, mostly because of the effectiveness of James Gist (17 points and 10 rebounds) and Bambale Osby (10 points, nine rebounds) inside. The Terps closed within 58-55 when Mike Jones dropped a 3-pointer with 6:25 left, but Shamari Spears’ 3-point play on the next possession bumped the lead back to six.

The margin fluctuated between four and a half-dozen for the next few minutes as both the Eagles (via Dudley’s three missed free throws) and the officials (with a phantom shot clock violation on BC) helped keep Maryland alive. However, Sean Williams’ layup with 1:55 left and Dudley’s basket 34 seconds later sealed the victory.

“We had plenty of opportunities to take the lead and go from there, but we just didn’t capitalize on the situations,” Strawberry said. “It was definitely a winnable game. We just didn’t handle our situation good.”

The Terps play again Wednesday against Missouri-Kansas City to start a five-game nonconference stretch. It will be an opportunity to tinker with a team that clearly has much work ahead of it to ensure it does not slide into oblivion once ACC play begins.

“We had our opportunities to win the game there at the end,” Williams said. “I was very disappointed how we executed some things down the stretch. We have to learn how to do that.”



Click to Read More

Click to Hide