Three days after escaping Mount St. Mary’s with a win, Maryland men’s basketball wasn’t as fortunate in its second game of the season.
The Terps’ uneven play in Tuesday night’s season-opening 68-53 victory over the Mountaineers carried over to Friday night’s game against Davidson, and the Wildcats proved to be the more resilient team en route to a 64-61 win in the opening game of the Asheville Championship at Harrah’s Cherokee Center in Asheville, North Carolina.
The setback dropped Maryland to 1-1 and was the program’s earliest loss since Nov. 8, 2013, when that squad fell to No. 18 Connecticut, 78-77, in the season opener. The school’s all-time record against Davidson slipped to 8-4 with the Wildcats winning for the first time since Dec. 27, 1968.
Freshman small forward Bobby Durkin came off the bench for Davidson (2-0) to compile 16 points and two rebounds, and redshirt sophomore point guard Angelo Brizzi, a Villanova transfer, chipped in 10 points, six steals and four assists. The Wildcats will meet Clemson (2-0), a 77-76 winner over UAB (0-2), in Sunday’s championship final at 3 p.m.
Fifth-year senior point guard Jahmir Young paced the Terps with a game-high 18 points and seven assists and reached the 2,000-point milestone with his 14th point on the second of two free throws with 3:46 left in the second half. Junior power forward Julian Reese, a Baltimore native and St. Frances graduate, racked up 16 points and 11 rebounds. Maryland will take on UAB in Sunday’s consolation final at 12:30 p.m.
Here are three observations from Friday night’s loss.
Maryland continues to fizzle late
As comfortable as Tuesday’s victory over Mount St. Mary’s might have seemed, the Terps didn’t exactly impress in the second half.
Armed with a 33-19 lead at halftime, Maryland outscored the Mountaineers by just one point, 35-34, in the second half. The team’s saving grace that night was a 14 of 18 performance from the free-throw line that kept Mount St. Mary’s at bay long enough to secure the victory.
Davidson was not as passive. After Maryland clawed back to trail 33-32 at halftime, the Wildcats opened the second half on a 11-3 run to enjoy what would be their largest advantage at 44-35 with 14:26 left.
The Terps eventually pulled within striking distance, never falling behind by double digits. And in the last four minutes, they mounted enough of a rally to tie the score at 61 on a layup-and-one by Young with 37 seconds left.
But Durkin took advantage of fifth-year senior small forward Donta Scott getting caught up on a defensive switch to drain a 3-pointer with 13 seconds remaining. Sophomore shooting guard Noah Batchelor missed a 3-point attempt with five seconds left, and Maryland couldn’t get off another shot before the final buzzer sounded.
The Terps scored just 29 points on 30.8% shooting (8 of 26) in the second half and were buoyed by an 11 of 16 showing at the free-throw line. Finding the right buttons to push to finish strong should be a top priority for the team.
Maryland’s 3-point shooting is off
One of the biggest question marks heading into the season was whether the Terps would find consistency with their long-distance shooting. So far, the answer isn’t encouraging.
The offense shot only 21.7% (5 of 23) from behind the arc. Young and Batchelor were the only players to connect from deep with Young hitting three 3-pointers and Batchelor making two.
Maryland’s cold streak from 3-point territory was reminiscent of the team’s 18.8% showing (3 of 16) against Mount St. Mary’s. In that game, no Terps player hit more than one 3-pointer.
The Terps’ problems bring to mind how much they appear to miss sophomore shooting guard Chance Stephens. The Loyola Marymount transfer, who is expected to sit out the season after undergoing knee surgery in June, shot 37.5% (49 of 131) from behind the arc last winter and had earned the nickname “Sniper” for his long-range proficiency.
Stephens was expected to fill the role created by Don Carey, who led last year’s squad in 3-pointers (57). Instead, Maryland is left trying to find a competent shooter among its current group.
Maryland’s bench was overshadowed again
The starting five of Young, Reese, freshman shooting guard DeShawn Harris-Smith (eight points, five rebounds, one assist), senior power forward Jordan Geronimo (four points, three rebounds, one assist) and Scott combined to produce 82% of the offense’s scoring Friday night.
That’s what one might expect from the starters, but it’s also a commentary on how ineffective the Terps’ bench has been. The reserves were outscored 27-11 by Davidson’s group that was led by Durkin and sophomore power forward Sean Logan (seven points, five rebounds).
On Tuesday night, Maryland’s bench of six players combined for 15 points, which was just a little more than half of Mount St. Mary’s 29 points from its reserves.
On Friday night, Willard shortened his bench to senior point guard Jahari Long (five points), Batchelor (six points) and freshman small forward Jamie Kaiser Jr., but the team is going to have to find ways to cultivate a greater output from them and their teammates to persevere through a long season.
Maryland vs. UAB
Sunday, 12:30 p.m.
Radio: 105.7 FM