Mark Turgeon has never been a big fan of Maryland playing every year in the BB&T Classic. Despite victories over Notre Dame and George Mason his first two seasons, Turgeon was looking forward to the Terps’ contract with the event running out after Sunday’s game against George Washington.
Some might say that Maryland didn’t wait until next year to not show up at the Verizon Center, as the Terps didn’t appear to come to play for the first 35 minutes against the Colonials.
But Trailing by 14 points and playing without junior guard Dez Wells, who had fouled out with a little over six minutes left, Maryland nearly pulled one of its bigger comeback wins under Turgeon.
Then the Terps didn’t.
After Maryland twice tied the score in the game’s last minute and seven seconds, an 18-foot jump shot from the left wing by George Washington guard Maurice Creek with under a second remaining gave the Colonials a 77-75 victory.
“We were devastated, obviously, we thought we had this one,” Maryland sophomore forward Jake Layman said after the team's second straight defeat. “If it went to overtime, we knew we had them because they had no idea what to do against our press. It was tough.”
Creek, who transferred from Indiana and is playing as a graduate student, led George Washington (8-1) with with 25 points, while sophomore point guard Joe McDonald added 13 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. Wells led Maryland (5-4) with 16 points before fouling out.
The defeat — coming on the heels of an embarrassing effort in a 16-point loss at No. 5 Ohio State Wednesday — left Turgeon wondering why it again took so long for his Terps to play with any consistent level of intensity on either end.
Asked why his team came out flat again Sunday, Turgeon said, “I have no idea. If I knew we wouldn’t be doing it. … Some of the mistakes are just mindboggling to me. I can handle missed shots as long as we’re doing all the other stuff well, if the shots are good.
“I don’t know what it is. … I don’t want to have to rely on the press to get ourselves going. I don’t want for us to get behind by 14 to get ourselves going or the coaches to get a technical to get ourselves going. But we’ll keep plugging. We’ll try to figure it out. But we lost to a really good team today, too.”
Said Layman, who finished with 13 points and six rebounds, “We just have to want it more. We know that we’re playing great teams. We just have to want it more at the beginning of the games and play harder than they are.”
The defensive mistakes that allowed the Colonials to take control in the first 10 minutes and build their to 14, 38-24, late in the first half and twice to 14 in the second half — the last time at 68-54 with 5:17 to go — led to Turgeon picking up his first technical foul of the season.
“I can’t really say what I want to say,” Turgeon said about the technical, which came after it appeared as if Faust blocked Creek’s shot cleanly. “I was just trying to make it fair.”
Whether it was Turgeon’s technical that awakened his team, or George Washington’s inability to handle Maryland’s fullcourt press, the Terps had a chance to win the game when sophomore forward Charles Mitchell’s layup tied the score at 73 and freshman point guard Roddy Peters (11 points in 19 minutes) stole the ball in the backcourt.
But Mitchell lost possession under the basket — Turgeon thought he was fouled — and fouled Creek, who made both free throws with 29 seconds left. Peters was then fouled driving for the basket and made his free throws as well. The Terps figured that Creek was going to take the last shot, and Turgeon wanted Peters to help Faust with a double-team.
Faust slipped trying to get to Creek and Peters never helped cover him.
“We knew what they were going to do and I didn’t do a very good job, we should have run at him and doubled him,” Turgeon said. “I was trying to get Roddy to do it, but he doesn’t understand yet. I was trying to get Roddy’s attention and Nick slipped a little bit. I thought it was short when he shot it and it swished. He made a big-time shot.”
Said Creek: “I told coach [Mike Lonergan, a former Maryland assistant under Gary Williams] I wanted the ball. He got me the ball and we made a great play.”
Missing shots is just part of a long list of issues Turgeon has to get straightened out before his team opens its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule Thursday at Boston College.
“We don’t have a lot of things going our way right now, whether it’s balls going in and out, guys making tough shots against us, whistles, it’s a lot of things not going our way right now,” Turgeon said. “There’s a lot of basketball left. Hopefully we can get better from it. ... Losing is no fun.”