They appeared from a classroom on the bottom level of Gill Center late Wednesday night, emerging after a lengthy post-game talk with their coaching staff.
Some sported smiles as they chatted with teammates in hushed tones. Others wore frowns and kept their heads down.
McDaniel College absorbed its seventh loss in eight games, and such was the scene following a 70-57 setback against visiting Johns Hopkins. The Green Terror’s big deficit early on was too much to overcome, despite a much more successful second half.
The defeat pushed McDaniel’s record to 6-14, 2-11 in the Centennial Conference.
In terms of making a playoff run, the season could be described as lost. But it seems as if the Green Terror are still learning how to play as a unit heading into February.
“I was proud of them for not giving up, and competing and playing hard,” said McDaniel coach Kevin Curley, who stayed in the classroom with his assistants for a while after his players headed back to their locker room. “We did battle all the way to the end.”
The Terror boast 11 freshmen and one sophomore on their roster, while three juniors are junior college transfers. Finding cohesion has been the biggest challenge this winter, Curley said.
McDaniel never led Wednesday, falling behind by as many at 17 points midway through the second half. The home team tried to rally, led by Aaron Washington’s second-half surge. The junior guard had 21 of his team-high 24 points after the break, including three 3-pointers. He drilled a 3 with 6:40 remaining that got McDaniel within nine at 55-46, but the Terror never got any closer.
Washington’s three-point play with 1:26 to play made it 65-56, and there wasn’t enough time to finish off a comeback.
DJ Harper, one of McDaniel’s two seniors, had 12 points, nine rebounds, and four assists. Washington posted his 12th double-digit scoring effort of the year, and he’s fourth in the conference at 15.7 points per game.
Johns Hopkins (13-6, 10-2) got 25 points from Michael Gardner, a game high. Blue Jays center Daniel Vila had 12 points, as did guard Braeden Johnson (eight rebounds). Joey Kern, another guard, scored 11, while Vila and Gardner had seven rebounds apiece.
The Jays won the rebound battle over the Terror 43-26.
Gardner, a senior guard, eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for his Johns Hopkins career. The New York native entered Wednesday’s game one point shy of the milestone, and surpassed it with a jumper early in the contest.
Hopkins led by as many as 16 in the first half, but McDaniel tried to claw back into it. An 8-2 run in the final minutes got the Green Terror to within 30-20, capped with a 3 from Mike Wallace from the right corner.
Johns Hopkins responded under the hoop when Vila converted off the glass from close range. The Blue Jays led 32-20 at halftime, backed by 11 points from Gardner.
McDaniel struggled on offense in the first half and missed 16 of 24 field-goal attempts. The Terror started 1-for-11 before Harper sank a layup with 11:21 remaining.
Washington drained a 3-pointer from the left wing with 10:47 to go in the half, cutting Johns Hopkins’ lead to 13-8. But the Jays answered by crafting a 13-3 run and jumped on top 26-10.
Harper had eight points and four rebounds in the first half for McDaniel, which shot 37 percent and couldn’t get inside Johns Hopkins’ defense with enough efficiency to stay close.
“They’re long, they’re athletic,” Curley said of the Jays. “So I understand it’s a little intimidating to get in there and drive a little bit.”
The Green Terror are in last place in the Centennial, one game behind Gettysburg (3-10) with five games to play. McDaniel is back on the road Saturday to face Ursinus (13-7, 10-3), and Feb. 6 at Gettysburg (4-16 overall).