There was a new coach in College Park on Sunday afternoon, but the story wasn’t any different for Maryland.
Guard Eric Ayala and forward Donta Scott finished a combined 4-of-23 shooting, and the Terrapins shot an abysmal 28% from the floor in falling to Northwestern, 67-61.
The Big Ten opener for Maryland was also the first game for interim coach Danny Manning after Mark Turgeon and the university parted ways in “a mutual decision” on Friday. The loss was Maryland’s third in a row.
“It’s a tornado whirlwind of emotions,” Manning said of the last few days, including sitting down with what’s now his team and having them talk through their feelings. “That’s just part of life. We’ve just got to make sure we continue to address that.”
Maryland (0-1 Big Ten, 5-4 overall) was solid from the foul line (77%) and found a better rhythm from three-point range, finishing 10-of-23. But two-point shooting was dreadful all day, with the Terrapins only making 17 of their 59 shots and only seven in the second half.
“It was definitely tough,” Ayala said of Turgeon’s departure. “It’s still kind of unreal to to describe.”
The lone bright spot for Maryland: Hakim Hart. The guard led the Terrapins all day, finishing 7-of-10 with 18 points to lead all scorers. Twelve of Hart’s points were from three.
Northwestern (1-0, 6-2) was led by forward Pete Nance’s 17 points and guard Boo Buie’s 16.
Maryland’s season-long trend of waxing and waning between small bursts of scoring and then missed shots for minutes on end continued against the Wildcats.
Hart scored Maryland’s first five points of the game on 2-of-2 shooting. But Northwestern’s Buie had answers for Hart and the Terrapins, going 3-of-4 with 7 points in less than seven minutes. That helped Northwestern to a 9-0 run and an 11-5 lead.
Maryland went nearly five minutes without scoring during that stretch. Hart again helped them hang around with two threes, including one off of a Fatts Russell spin move and pass to find Hart in the corner. That drew the Terrapins even at 18-all with 7:59 remaining in the first half.
The Terrapins then went another four minutes without a bucket, going 1-of-7 from the field. Maryland also committed five of their eight first-half turnovers in the final four minutes. Northwestern capitalized, with two inside buckets from Nance keying a 6-0 Wildcats run to close the half with a 30-27 lead.
Hart — seemingly the only Terrapin who could do anything right — dragged Maryland back to contention with a layup and another three out of the break, evening the game at 32. Maryland’s poor shooting inside the arc never improved, though.
The Terrapins missed 10 shots over eight minutes in the middle of the second half, falling behind 47-39. Northwestern’s lead would narrow to one, 55-54, after Maryland put together a 10-2 run. But the Wildcats would power away with steals and strong layups to finish off the Terrapins.
“We’ve got to keep fighting,” Ayala said, “keep trying to win games.”