It was a proposition Maryland did not really care to test: Could the Terps, desperate for their first victory on an opposing team's court, survive on a night when leading scorer Terrell Stoglin was suffering through one of his worst halves of the season and coach Mark Turgeon was ejected?
After Stoglin, the Atlantic Coast Conference’s leading scorer, missed seven of his first nine shots -- followed by Turgeon’s second-half ejection -- the sophomore guard and Maryland staged memorable rallies.
Climbing back from a 16-point deficit with 7:09 left, Maryland sent the game into overtime, then double overtime. Then, the Terps finally fell to Miami, 90-86, on Wednesday night.
It was the sort of emotional game that can bond teammates even in defeat.
“None of us likes to lose,” said Maryland assistant coach Scott Spinelli, who took over after Turgeon was ejected with 7:28 left for arguing an offensive foul on Nick Faust. “I think we can build on something here. The head coach is willing to put himself out there, even to get thrown out of the game. I was the substitute teacher, kind of had the lesson plan.”
Turgeon said he heard some of the remainder of the marathon game on radio and received text messages about it from his wife and friends after leaving the court. Terps players said they desperately tried to win the game for Turgeon after he was tossed.
“I wasn’t trying to get kicked out. I apologize for that,” Turgeon said. “Obviously, [it] woke our guys up. They played inspired.”
Said Stoglin: “If we play together, we can come back -- and we did it without our head coach, too.”
Despite his rough start, Stoglin finished with 33 points -- a career high -- although he shot just 9-for-25, including 6-for-20 on 3-point attempts. Miami said it focused its defense on making life difficult for Stoglin behind the arc. Stoglin was often guarded by Durand Scott (24 points), Miami’s junior guard.
Turgeon was assessed two technical fouls with the Terps trailing 57-46. Turgeon walked briskly with his head down to the locker room, and Spinelli -- who has been an assistant under Turgeon not only at Maryland but also at Texas A&M -- took over on the bench. “I tried to grab him on the second one. Couldn’t get to him in time,” Spinelli said of Turgeon and the technicals.
After Turgeon departed, the Terps rallied. A putback by Ashton Pankey cut Miami’s lead to 62-57.
Maryland tied the game at 69 when Stoglin hit a 3 with 1:03 left. Stoglin missed a heave as time was winding down in regulation.
In the first overtime, Maryland’s Pe’Shon Howard converted a pair of free throws to the tie the game at 76 with 39 seconds left. Miami’s Malcolm Grant missed a 3-pointer with five seconds left.
Maryland struggled to score early in the second overtime. DeQuan Jones’ dunk gave the Hurricanes an 80-76 lead. The lead became 83-76 on a field goal by Miami’s Shane Larkin. The Terps closed to within 86-84 on Stoglin’s three foul shots with 20 seconds remaining. But the Terps had to foul in the final moments, and the Hurricanes sealed the game from the line.
There were enough Maryland fans at the BankUnited Center that Maryland bench players waved towards the stands, urging the Terps’ supporters to make noise.
Maryland (13-8) slipped below .500 at 3-4 in the conference. The Terps faces an even bigger test in North Carolina on Saturday at Comcast Center.
Maryland was trying to reverse a long road losing streak against Miami. The Terps are have not won here since 1970 and are 0-6 since 2005.
The Terps entered the game 0-3 in away games this season, and Turgeon had said he was disappointed in his team’s defense in road losses to North Carolina State and Florida State.
Entering the game, Stoglin had taken nearly twice as many shots as any other Terp. Turgeon has conceded that the Terps occasionally require the sophomore to be a little “selfish” this season because his scoring is so sorely needed.
Maryland trailed 34-23 after a first half in which the Terps were 0-for-8 from the 3-point line, including Stoglin’s 0-for-4.
It was as if the Terps were trying to buy time while waiting for Stoglin to become his accustomed self, or for someone else to pick up the slack.
While Stoglin was off his game, Maryland was hanging around by pushing the ball inside. Maryland’s first half was highlighted by a pair of alley-oop dunks by Mychal Parker, both on passes from Howard. And the Terps were getting to the foul line, having shot twice as many free throws as the Hurricanes midway through the second half.
Miami, in its first season under former George Mason coach Jim Larranaga, was led by two experienced guards -- senior Malcolm Grant and Scott -- and entered the night ranked second in the conference in 3-point shooting percentage.
Scott shot 11-for-14 with eight rebounds and seven assists before fouling out.
“I thought he had a really gritty performance, efficient,” Miami assistant coach Eric Konkol said. “And he really made it tough on the leading scorer in the ACC.”
Larranaga was not expected to be at the game because of flu-like symptoms. But he showed up. “Miraculous comeback,” Konkol said of the coach.
Konkol said of the game: “Never [seen] anything like this. It was an amazing day. It feels like a 48-hour day.”
Turgeon began the game with a shuffled starting lineup. He started Faust, the freshman, instead of Howard.
Maryland got a lift from center Alex Len, who came off the bench to score 11 points and collect seven rebounds.
twitter.com/sunjeffbarkerCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun