COLLEGE PARK — A season that started with Dez Wells missing makeable shots in a one-point loss to Connecticut at the Barclays Center, a season punctuated by Charles Mitchell doing the same in a two-point loss at No. 5 Duke nine days ago, was summed up Monday night in the closing seconds of a 57-55 loss to No. 4 Syracuse at Comcast Center.
Jake Layman, close to a 70-percent free throw shooter for his college career, missed the first of two free throws and could have tied the score with 47.7 seconds to go.
Wells, one of the toughest players to stop in the ACC when he’s going downhill with the ball, passed up a drive to the basket and gave the ball to Nick Faust in a tougher position on the baseline. Faust was blocked.
“We probably got fouled twice on it,” a clearly perturbed Mark Turgeon said later.”That’s kind of the way the year’s gone for us.”
And Seth Allen, who had made six of eight 3-point shots on a night when noone else on Maryland was hitting their outside shot, took an off-balanced 20-footer at at the buzzer rather than square up a little earlier from a longer distance.
“I knew I didn’t have enough time to do a full jump shot, so I just tried to get it off and get the best shot I could,” Allen said. “I thought it was a good shot. We only had three seconds.”
Turgeon said that Allen’s 3-pointer was the team's third option, but “safe option."
Turgeon didn’t say (and wasn’t asked) what were the first two. Turgeon said that he wished “we could have gotten the ball up the floor a little up to Seth,” but that Syracuse had taken away his first option, most likely to Wells.
“There’s a reason he’s won 900 games,” Turgeon said of his counterpart, Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim. “Give them credit, they double-teamed him, 3.5 [seconds] is enough time, I wish he would have gone straight up instead of running. But Seth made a lot of shots for us.”
Asked if the game summed up a season in which the Terps have often made furious comebacks after falling behind by double digits, only to fall short in the end, Allen said, “I wouldn’t say it sums up the season.
“I just think we’ve got to be a little more consistent, take care of the ball better [18 turnovers, leading to 26 points], we’ve got to play consistently defensively. It’s been a rough season. But I think our team has really matured.”
In reality, Maryland took advantage of the fact that Syracuse was playing its third game in the past five days, and it’s second in the past three since losing an emotional game at Duke on Saturday night.
The Terps had not played since winning at home against Wake Forest on Tuesday. Maryland also didn’t have to contend with Syracuse forward Jerami Grant, who came out with a bad back after playing just 13 minutes.
Maryland didn’t win because it hasn’t won many close games or hit many big shots this season. Wells’ 3-point shot to beat Miami after the Terps blew a 10-point lead in the last 1:45 is the only one since Providence in November in the Paradise Jam championship game.
Wells wasn’t going to second-guess his decision to get the ball to Faust instead of driving it himself.
“I trust Nick in those situations, I wouldn’t have done anything differently,” Wells said. “Those things happen. It could have gone either way. Could have been fouled, or could happened the way it did.”
The way it has happened all season for Maryland.