Mark Turgeon can barely bring himself to utter the words NCAA tournament these days.
The superstitious Maryland basketball coach will begin shaking his head before a reporter can complete a question about Maryland's chances of advancing to what Turgeon has euphemistically referred to as the “four-letter word” tournament.
While Turgeon considers it premature to speculate on Maryland's prospects, he knows that the team suffered a setback when it lost Tuesday night, 69-58, to a Boston College team that shut down Maryland center Alex Len.
“I just don't get it,” Turgeon said afterward. “We're right here, it's a big game. It's not a hostile environment. You've just got to want it.”
Turgeon said the Terps seemed to lose “every long rebound, every loose ball.”
The defeat took some of the luster off Maryland's win over Duke on Saturday and marked the second time this season that the Terps have posted a win over a nationally-ranked team only to fall in the next game on the road.
Boston College (12-14, 4-9 Atlantic Coast Conference) held Len, Maryland's leading scorer, to four points before he fouled out. The Eagles repeatedly collapsed on the center when he got the ball inside.
The crowd howled when the 7-footer had his shot blocked in the contest by Eddie Odio, who is 6-feet-7. Odio had six blocks in the game.
The Terps (18-8, 6-7 ACC) were led by guard Logan Aronhalt, whose season-high 26 points included seven 3-pointers — many of them on Maryland breaks.
“We really needed this one,” Aronhalt said. “I mean we did this before,” the guard said, referring to Maryland losing at North Carolina after playing a solid game against nationally-ranked North Carolina State.
Maryland trailed 43-38 with 10:25 remaining against Boston College.
The Terps went to a full-court press and retook the lead, 50-49 on Dez Wells' fast break layup and foul shot with 5:14 left.
But the Terps went cold. Wells missed a pair of shots and Boston College took a 55-50 lead on Olivier Hanlan's jumper with 3:52 left.
The lead became 59-50 on Hanlan's fadeaway jumper with 2:10 left.
The Eagles were led by Hanlan, who had 26 points.
Maryland scored just 25 points and had seven field goals in the second half.
The Eagles entered the game having lost nine of its 12 conference contests. They entered the game ranked last in the conference in defense, allowing ACC opponents to shoot 47.3 percent.
They also ranked second-to-last in rebounding margin – a deficiency that the bigger Terps could not exploit.
Maryland knew all too well that two of Boston College's defeats were 1-point losses at home to Duke and Miami, the ACC's best teams.
The Terps were hoping to avoid a letdown after their emotional, two-point win over Duke on Saturday that put them back into the NCAA tournament conversation.
Turgeon said the defeat “had nothing to do with the Duke game. It's just my team. This is new territory for me.”
Turgeon opened with his 12th starting lineup of the season. For the second straight game, it did not include sophomore Nick Faust at guard.
But it did include freshman forward Jake Layman, who is from near here in Wrentham, Mass., and had a group of vocal supporters behind the Maryland bench.
Layman managed just five points on 2-for-6 shooting. The Terps shot just 35.7 percent.
As usual, Turgeon did not address Maryland's NCAA tournament prospects after the game. But Aronhalt said: “I don't know where it puts us, but it's not good.”