It was a familiar story for Maryland fans this season. The team played a scrappy and competitive game against a superior opponent but ended up making too many mistakes and too few plays to pull out a win at the end. So it was against Duke at Cameron Indoor last night as the Terps fell 71-64. The crucial stretch of the game probably occurred a few minutes into the 2nd half as Maryland surged to a six point lead at 38-32. Over the next seven minutes Maryland failed to score a field goal until Cliff Tucker scored at 13:10 while Duke went on an 11-0 run to take the lead. Playing the number one team on the road is a long shot for most teams and Duke is 58-2 at Cameron the last four seasons so it isn't a disaster that Maryland lost this game. There are not too many more chances for a marquee win this year for this squad with a down ACC and lots of mediocrity on the remaining schedule. The games at Villanova and against Duke in a few weeks provide the last two opportunities for impressive wins during the regular season.
Jordan Williams continued to show that he is a dominating force with 23 points and 13 rebounds even while double teamed by Duke. Mason Plumlee fouled out in only 18 minutes trying to guard Williams and no other Duke player had much success stopping him either. Even with some early foul trouble, he got his second foul on a silly blocking foul with 12 minutes to go in the 1st half, Williams still played 31 minutes. His foul shooting continues to be a bugaboo going 3/6 from the line.
Cliff Tucker played well off the bench with 14 points and 7 rebounds and helped keep Maryland close. Trailing by three Tucker went 5/7 with 12 points and two rebounds over the next six minutes. He took good shots and did a great job getting out in transition. Mosley played a solid game (8 points and 6 rebounds), given his recent struggles, but Stoglin and Adrian Bowie were terrible going 1/14 with 4 points in 56 minutes. As a freshman in his first game at Cameron I don't put too much blame on Stoglin but Bowie's game was a disappointing setback after his best game of the year against Colgate. Bowie needs to start making some plays on offense and, along with Mosley, disappears in games too often. In Maryland's losses this season his point totals were: 9, 4, 2, 4 and 1. If he doesn't improve he may have to give way to Tucker, who has his own consistency problems but has shown more of a consistent scoring threat. Pe'Shon Howard had some good (5 points) and some very bad (4 TOs in 10 minutes) and is struggling with elements of his game.
Beyond Jordan Williams Maryland didn't get much from their frontcourt. Dino Gregory had 8 points on 3/7 shooting with only 4 rebounds in 30 minutes. The bigs off the bench only got 5 minutes of play so no surprise they didn't contribute much.
Foul shooting continues to be a problem converting just 9/17 at a 53% clip. Six missed free throws were critical in the 2nd half. Beyond getting better shooters to the line like Mosley, Bowie and Stoglin there probably isn't much improvement to be had the rest of the season.
Three point shooting is also a continuing problem going 3/14 (21%) for the game largely based on Stoglin's 0/6 horror show. In Maryland's wins this season the team is shooting 41% from 3-point range while in the five losses they have bricked their way to 22% shooting (16/73). Unless they can start hitting shots from outside more opponents will pack in the lane and try to dare Maryland's guards to beat them from 3-point range.
The game against a terrible Wake Forest squad on Wednesday should be a win while a loss would be a devastating blow to the Terrapins NCAA chances. Maryland's next five ACC games present a chance for Maryland to make a run as they should be favored in each contest. Road games at Wake Forest, Virginia and Georgia Tech are bookended around home dates with Clemson and Virginia Tech.