Maryland gets embarrassed and booed on senior day, losing to No. 17 Michigan, 85-61

It’s hard to imagine that things could get any worse this season for Maryland coach Mark Turgeon than they were Friday.

That’s when news first surfaced of former Terp Diamond Stone’s involvement in an ongoing FBI investigation into illegal payments to college and high school players in a report by Yahoo Sports.

By the middle of Saturday’s senior day game against No. 17 Michigan, Stone taking more than $14,000 in improper payments from an agent during his freshman year was not even the latest installment in what has been a tough season for Turgeon and the Terps.

Trying to avenge a last-second loss to then-No. 23 Michigan in Ann Arbor in January, Maryland found itself down 30 points to the Wolverines at halftime Saturday in what turned out to be an 85-61 defeat at Xfinity Center.

Senior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, whose two free throws with 1.2 seconds remaining on Jan. 15 ruined a potential comeback win for the Terps, scored 22 points in the first half, two fewer than Maryland (19-12, 8-10 Big Ten) had as a team. He finished with a career-high 28 after making six of 13 3-point attempts.

He wasn’t the only Michigan player to shoot well, as the Wolverines shot 15-for-31 from beyond the arc while Maryland made just three of 18.

Turgeon took the blame for the most one-sided home loss in his seven years coaching the Terps and the first loss on senior day since the school joined the Big Ten for the 2014-15 season.

It was also the worst home loss since the arena opened as Comcast Center for the 2002-03 season and the worst since the Terps, ranked 20th at the time, lost to No. 3 Duke, 104-72, in 1997-98.

“I want to apologize. I want to take full [responsibility] today. We weren’t very good," said Turgeon, whose team was loudly booed as it left the court at halftime. “And what I just talked about [regarding Stone] wasn’t a distraction. I just didn’t have us ready. Michigan was terrific. They made every shot. We couldn’t guard them.

“Our offense wasn’t good enough. We let our offense affect our defense. Since the Ohio State game [a 91-69 loss on Jan. 11], we’ve been pretty good in 11 straight games and today we weren’t. I’ll take the blame for that.”

Coming in off their first two-game winning streak since winning seven straight from Dec. 3 to Jan. 2, the Terps actually led 12-11 before Michigan (24-7, 13-5) closed the half on a 43-12 run and led by as many as 32 points in the second half. Using a five-guard lineup for much of the second half, the Terps could get no closer than within 19.

“I don’t look at it as a step back,” said sophomore guard Anthony Cowan Jr., one of the few Terps to play well offensively, finishing with 17 points and eight assists. “Obviously we didn’t do what we needed to do to win, but we kind of pushed it to the side and get ready for the Big Ten tournament.”

Maryland will go to New York's Madison Square Garden as the No. 8 seed and will play No. 9 seed Wisconsin on Thursday at noon. The winner will take on the top seed Friday at noon.

Asked if the resiliency the Terps have shown in the past could help them in their recovery this time, Cowan said: “This team is not going to just quit. I won’t allow it. We’re just going to come back whenever we practice and just keep getting better.”

Defensive letdown

The Terps, who gave up just 27 points in the second half of Monday’s win at Northwestern, had surpassed that total when Michigan freshman Jordan Poole hit a 3-pointer with 9:12 to go in the first half to put the Wolverines up 29-18.

It only got worse from there. The 54 points Maryland surrendered in the first half was the most in a half this season. Bucknell scored 50 in the first half on Nov. 18. Trailing by 15 at halftime, the Terps stormed back to win, 80-78. Then-No. 6 Michigan State scored 50 in the second half Jan. 28 and won by six.

The Wolverines, who came into the game shooting 45.2 percent overall and 36.5 percent on 3-pointers, finished Saturday’s game shooting 29-for-57 overall, including 15-for-31 on 3-pointers.

“We kind of reverted back to our old selves for a stretch where we weren’t guarding the 3-point line,” said Huerter, who had a rough afternoon trying to stop Abdur-Rahkman. “They started get going and they had a lot of guys get hot. A lot of those shots were contested, but a lot of them were wide open.”

Said Turgeon: “We just made a lot of mistakes. We would run at guys we’re not supposed to be running at. Our key was guarding the ball and we didn’t guard anybody in the first half. The ball went where they wanted … We made some really bad decisions and it’s frustrating.”

Senior day blues

Not only was it the first loss on senior day since the Terps joined the Big Ten, it is believed to be the most one-sided defeat in a regular-season finale in the history of the program.

“We definitely wanted to win this game for the seniors,” Cowan said. “Obviously we didn’t pull it up. We’ve just got to put this game behind us.”

Turgeon started the same lineup he had used for the previous seven games, with freshmen Bruno Fernando and Darryl Morsell (Mount Saint Joseph), Huerter, Cowan and redshirt junior Dion Wiley.

That left seniors Michal Cekovsky and Jared Nickens, as well as graduate transfer Sean Obi, coming off the bench. Nickens scored five points on 2-for-7 shooting (1-for-5 on 3-pointers) in 23 minutes in his last regular-season home game. Cekovsky finished with four points and no rebounds in 10 minutes.

Asked why he didn’t start Cekovsky and Nickens, Turgeon said: “That’s a great question. I’m one of those guys that sometimes I do it and sometimes I don’t. We won two in a row and like I said, we’ve played well in 11 straight games, especially the last four or five with this lineup.

“We’ve started games well and we’ve started halves well and that’s why I went with it. This game was really important for us. We didn’t play like that, but it was pretty important.”

don.markus@baltsun.com

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