CORAL GABLES, Fla. - As meltdowns go, the one Maryland suffered here Wednesday night in the second half of a 62-60 loss to Miami was neither as shocking as last week's similar collapse at home against Morgan State nor as devastating as what happened late last season against Clemson in College Park.
Unfortunately for the Terrapins, the more of these that occur, the less surprising they are when they happen.
This one was quick and painful, a 17-point lead gone in 12 1/2 minutes, disappearing for good when a three-point shot launched by former Calvert Hall standout Jack McClinton with 24 seconds left erased the 60-59 lead Maryland had recaptured on two free throws by Eric Hayes.
Maryland coach Gary Williams didn't seem as stunned as he did last season when the Terps blew a 20-point lead at home to Clemson and significantly damaged their chances of going to the NCAA tournament.
Williams attributed Wednesday's loss to his team's defense losing its aggressiveness and not covering Miami's outside shooters, McClinton in particular. But he also acknowledged that Maryland's offense became tentative down the stretch.
"We're trying to cover up some things with our offense this year," Williams said, referring to the team's lack of inside scoring. "We try to do as much as we can to run really good offense, run transition. We weren't able to do that for 40 minutes, that's what happened there."
Greivis Vasquez, who missed a pair of three-point attempts in the final five seconds, tried to remain positive after the game, pointing out that the team played hard for 40 minutes and the margin of defeat was certainly better than last season's 15-point loss at BankUnited Center.
"We played horrible the last couple of years against Miami," he said. "We can't feel sorry about it. We've got to keep working and see what we can do Saturday against Florida State. We all knew it was going to be tough, as long as we stay together."
Vasquez, careful not to criticize anybody after his recent outburst toward fans at Comcast Center during Saturday's win over Georgia Tech, was typically forthright in his appraisal of the fact that few of his teammates wanted to take shots toward the end.
That was certainly the case after Adrian Bowie, who had scored a career-high 23 points, fouled out with 53 seconds left after picking up three fouls in three minutes. It was reminiscent of several games last season in which Vasquez seemed to be the only one willing to take important shots.
"I can't say anything about that," said Vasquez, the only other Terp to finish in double figures, with 15 points. "I take responsibility. I was open. I should have made it. It's hard when they're double-teaming you. It wasn't who was going to take the shot.
"It's who is going to step up at a crucial time. There's got to be more than one guy. Like I've said, I can't do it by myself. Eric Hayes can't do it by himself. Adrian Bowie can't do it by himself. We need guys to step up. That's the reality."
MARYLAND (12-4, 1-1)
@FLA. STATE (14-3, 1-1)
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