CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- A week after blowing a 20-point second-half lead to Clemson at Comcast Center on Senior Night, Maryland showed signs it had recovered sufficiently during last night's game against Virginia.
Yet when it mattered, down the stretch at John Paul Jones Arena, the Terrapins showed they have more work to do. Foul trouble, defensive lapses and poor rebounding turned a close, winnable game into a 91-76 defeat to the Cavaliers.
"I'm really disappointed," Maryland coach Gary Williams said after his team's fourth defeat in its past five games and fifth in the past seven. "I thought we competed pretty well the first half. The second half, we couldn't play defense. We didn't get a good effort defensively, and Virginia gained confidence."
Virginia (15-14, 5-11 Atlantic Coast Conference) fed off the performance of senior guard Sean Singletary, who had his jersey number retired before the game. He finished with 27 points, eight assists and six rebounds. The Cavaliers scored 55 points in the second half, the second most against Maryland in a half this season.
The loss means Maryland (18-13, 8-8) finished tied with Miami for fifth place in the ACC and, because of its loss to the Hurricanes, will go into this week's ACC tournament in Charlotte, N.C., as the sixth seed. The Terps will play 11th seed Boston College in Thursday's final opening-round game.
It also means Maryland has more work to do to improve its NCAA tournament resume. Despite being mentioned in all the projected brackets as of late last week, the Terps probably will have to win at least two games at Charlotte Bobcats Arena.
Asked what his team must do to make the NCAA tournament, Williams said: "Whatever it takes. We win the ACC tournament, we go to the NCAA. That solves it."
Williams was smiling when he said it, but he knows his Terps face an uphill struggle to avoid their third appearance in the National Invitation Tournament in the past four seasons.
Maryland got decent efforts from sophomore guard Greivis Vasquez (16 points, nine assists) and senior center Bambale Osby (14 points), and a lift off the bench from Adrian Bowie (career-high 15 points)
But the Terps got little else.
Senior forward James Gist struggled at both ends, finishing with six points on 3-for-13 shooting before fouling out. Sophomore guard Eric Hayes made only one shot, finishing with three points and one assist in 22 minutes.
Gist has seemingly reverted to the way he was playing earlier this season, settling for jump shots - and not hitting them - rather than going to the basket. For the second straight game, Gist failed to get to the free-throw line.
"We need his inside presence," Williams said of Gist. "I thought Bambale Osby really tried to get inside for us, but he needed some help in that situation. We shot 33 percent from the three-point line [seven of 21]. We're not that type of team to take 21 threes. We kind of went away from going inside."
The Terps also went away from playing defense. "We played horrible defense today, and it cost us the game," Vasquez said. "We're playing a team that is 4-11 in the league, and we didn't play hard enough. We have to show up in the ACC tournament. We need to win the ACC tournament if we want to make it [to the NCAA tournament]."firstname.lastname@example.org