COLLEGE PARK - Maryland had no trouble navigating its early-season games last year following a loss to Kentucky in the opener, with the Terrapins reeling off 13 consecutive wins and extending their non-conference home unbeaten streak to 30 in a row.
So much for that, after Sunday night's 90-83 loss to Oregon State in front of 14,776 at Comcast Center.
The Terps played in front of President Barack Obama, whose brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, is the Beavers' coach. But they didn't concern themselves with the Commander-In-Chief, not with a more powerful combo on the court in the form of Oregon State's Roberto Nelson and Devon Collier.
Obama and the rest of the spectators watched Nelson and Colllier put on a show - they combined for 60 points, with junior guard Nelson scoring 31 and senior forward Collier adding 29.
The duo accounted for 14 of Oregon State's 18 points in the final 5 minutes, 7 seconds, while Maryland (1-2) was trying to stay close. Nelson poured in 10 points, with a bucket and two free throws in the final 28 seconds to seal it.
"That's all we talked about, the scouting report was those two kids, and trying to guard those two kids," said Terps coach Mark Turgeon. "Obviously we didn't do a very good job. Nelson kept getting to the rim, and then Collier was just a beast."
The result was Maryland's first non-conference loss since Dec. 30, 2009, when the Terrapins fell to William & Mary. Last year's Terps won all 10 non-ACC games by an average of 20.1 points.
The opponents ranged from Morehead State to Maryland-Eastern Shore to IUPUI, who all came to College Park after Maryland lost to Kentucky in New York.
This year, the Terrapins went back to Brooklyn and lost again, this time a one-point setback against Connecticut. They followed that with a win Wednesday over Abilene Christian, but Oregon State (2-1) took over Sunday's contest behind its 1-2 punch - Nelson averages 30.3 points per game, Collier scores 20 per game.
"I don't like losing, especially at home," said Maryland forward Evan Smotrycz, who scored 16 points. "We just didn't do our job. We just weren't very good."
Smotrycz was one of five Terps in double figures, with junior swingman Dez Wells scoring a team-high 23. But Maryland did itself in at the free-throw line (15 for 24) and failed to stop Nelson or Collier down the stretch.
Smotrycz canned a 3-pointer with 3:28 to play, cutting the Beavers' lead to 76-73 and getting the Comcast crowd back into it. Nelson and Collier each scored layups on Oregon State's next two possessions, and the Beavers kept answering Maryland's attempt to trim the deficit.
"Those guys just made play after play," Turgeon said.
Turgeon took some blame for not having his team's defense ready to go. It's a defense still adjusting to life without 7-foot center Alex Len, and a preseason injury to guard Seth Allen didn't help matters.
Big men Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell combined for just 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Mitchell missed all four of his foul shots in the second half.
"They're not as experienced as Alex is, they're as tall or as long as he is, but they can protect the basket too," Wells said. "And they'll get better as the season goes on. So I'm not worried about that."
Maryland appeared to take a 41-38 lead at the half, ignited by a last-second 3-point heave from Wells that swished the net as the buzzer sounded. Oregon State turned the ball over with 0.6 seconds remaining, and Wells hoisted up a shot from just inside the midcourt line.
The officials used video replay to confirm that Wells' 3-pointer, which got the Terrapins' fans on their feet, came after the horn, and the game remained tied.
Oregon State started the second half with an 8-0 run and Turgeon called a timeout with 17:54 to play. Wells scored Maryland's next five points, but the Beavers continued to turn to their playmakers on offense. Collier scored 14 of Oregon State's next 19 points, and Victor Robbins' 3-pointer from the left corner put the Beavers up 68-63 with just under 8 minutes to go.
"I rely on, as a coach, of us being good defensively," Turgeon said. "Almost all of my teams, if I can remember, can guard. This one right now is not doing a very good job of it."