Stifling Scarlet Knight Defense and Poor UMD Shooting Seal the Deal for the Terps
Zachary Wilson with Wayne Viener
In a battle between two teams desperate to show off their skills to AP voters and for the NCAA tournament, Maryland traveled to the Rutgers Scarlet Knight’s on their nearly prefect (17-1) home court for Senior Night. UMD had much to lose here, as their solo claim to the Big Ten title held in the balance (UMD would at least guarantee a tie for the title with a win).
It was a disaster for Maryland, who played right into the game plan of Rutgers. Not even being able to muster up 30 points in the first half, Maryland shot an atrocious 2-16 from three with an overall shooting percentage of 38.5 throughout the game. Rutgers, while most definitely a defensively driven team, found 15 points on fast breaks and UMD was sluggish on that end of the floor to say the least.
After securing a 4-2 lead in the first 3 minutes of the first half, Maryland would let it slip and proceed to lag behind RU for the rest of the entire affair. The second half played out much like the first half, with ineffective UMD runs unable to cut their deficit and letting RU off easy by settling for threes. Maryland did not leave much to say here, as it simply came down to a matter of shots not falling for the Terrapins and inability to hustle back on defense.
As they squander their opportunity to hold complete control of the Big Ten, of which they were 3 games ahead of the crowd entering their final 5 match ups, UMD must win on Sunday at home against Michigan to guarantee a tie for the conference. Currently speaking, 4 teams now have a stake at the title, with Michigan State tied with Maryland (MSU defeated Penn State to advance to 13-6 in conference) and Illinois/Wisconsin just a half game back. From a conference with which they had certain control of their own destiny to win, the Terps are limping out of the home stretch and now rely on the help of other teams to win it outright.
Notable Statlines, The Good and The Not So Good:
Jalen Smith-Another double-double (16 points 10 rebounds) but his contributions were far too little to have a meaningful impact on the outcome of the game. He has now shown consistent ability to find his own rhythm despite the utter chaos going on around him, which is a sought-after skill set for a sophomore making his claim for the NBA.
The Not So Good:
UMD’s Shooting from Deep-Again, it has been a known problem that this team can struggle with perimeter shooting. I just cannot understand why one would continue to throw up these desperate heaves instead of running more developed plays. Finishing 6-32 from deep will lose you any game, not just tough road contests. If the cold shooting continues, it will certainly prove a problem in the Big Ten tournament not to mention the more grandiose NCAA affair in March.
This Entire Final Stretch to End the Season-Of their last 4, UMD have lost three key games on their path to try and win the conference (their only win coming from a miraculous comeback against Minnesota, which seems more like fool’s gold in retrospect). The Terps had sole control of winning this whole thing and imploded over this stretch, now hoping for a tie with some strange stipulations and rules regarding tie breakers and the like. A situation they could have avoided with one more win. Just a head-shaking way to close out an almost a magical year for this program.
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