It was here at the RBC Center that Maryland -- on the road for the first time and battling a good-shooting team and its exuberant, red-clad crowd -- encountered a new sort of test.
The young Terps hung in against North Carolina State for much of Sunday night's game before falling victim to the Wolfpack's shooting and experience in a 79-74 loss in the first Atlantic Coast Conference game of the season for both teams.
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, asked the day before the game how his young team might perform in its first game in an opponent's arena, had been characteristically blunt: "I don't know what to expect, to be honest with you."
After the loss -- which snapped a seven-game winning streak -- Turgeon was a mass of conflicting emotions. He said he was pleased that his team had hung in, withstanding several N.C. State runs and never letting the game get out of hand in front of an announced crowd of 18,057.
"I was really proud of our group," the coach said. "As a team, we really grew up tonight.'
But Turgeon also shook his head and lowered his voice in his postgame comments -- evidence that moral victories only go so far. He said "I thought their big guys dominated our big guys" and that the Terps didn't always run back on defense during a key second-half Wolfpack run.
The Wolfpack snapped a nine-game losing streak to the Terps.
Turgeon had said before the game that Maryland needed to limit N.C. State's fast-break opportunities. That didn't always happen as the Wolfpack scored 16 fast-break points to Maryland's five.
N.C. State's 13-2 run came after the Terps pulled to within 54-51 on three free throws by Terrell Stoglin (25 points), who was fouled by Alex Johnson beyond the arc with 10:10 remaining.
Junior Wolfpack center DeShawn Painter's breakaway dunk made it 56-51. Then Painter -- who at 6 feet 9, 231 pounds repeatedly tried to muscle Maryland 7-footer Alex Len -- beat Len downcourt and hit a lay-up and free throw to up the lead to 59-53. C.J. Williams' 3-pointer made it 62-53, and the margin ballooned to 14 points before Maryland recovered.
"Basically, we just wasn't getting back on defense," said Stoglin, who had six 3-pointers.
While Len got caught trailing Painter on one play, Turgeon said he was pleased with the center, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds and is now shooting 20-for-26 (76.9 percent) for the season.
"I thought he did great. For the majority of the game, he made it hard to score over him," the coach said.
Ashton Pankey, who had played center for the Terps before Len arrived, had one rebound, two blocks and no points in 16 minutes.
Maryland had just 12 assists, and point guard Pe'Shon Howard had eight of them. Stoglin shot 8-for-16 but had no assists. "We're not going to win the games we need to win if he doesn't trust his teammates more," Turgeon said.
Maryland's last chance came when a three-point play by Sean Mosley (12 points) cut the deficit to 67-60, and Len's putback made it 67-62 with 1:55 left.
N.C. State then sealed the game on foul shots -- including six by junior forward Scott Wood, who has now made 47 in a row, seven shy of J.J. Redick's conference record.
Wood entered then night shooting 47 percent on 3-pointers. He shot just 1-for-4 on 3s but finished with 19 points. C.J. Leslie led the Wolfpack with 20 points.
N.C. State (12-4) has now won six in a row.
"We've improved a lot -- rebounding the ball, defending the ball," Mosley said Sunday night. But he said it was hard to feel good as the Terps headed home.
"A loss is not taken in a positive way," he said.