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Sloppy play dooms Maryland men’s basketball in 55-50 loss to Penn State

The Maryland men’s basketball team had a golden opportunity to get on its first winning streak in Big Ten Conference play on Friday night, facing host Penn State in what was a break from six straight conference games against ranked opponents.

But the Terps couldn’t overcome 16 turnovers, tied for a season-high, and an inconsistent offense in a 55-50 loss to the Nittany Lions. Their 50 points, along with just six assists, is a season-low.

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Maryland (10-9, 4-8 Big Ten) shot 35% from the field and missed its final 10 field-goal attempts over the last 7:32 as its losing streak at Bryce Jordan Center continued. Maryland has lost its last five games at Penn State, with its last victory coming in the 2014-15 season. Nine of the last 10 meetings between the teams have now been decided by seven points or fewer.

Junior guard Eric Ayala scored a game-high 23 points, tying his career-high, but was the only Terp to score in double figures. Fellow junior guard Aaron Wiggins, who scored 18 points in consecutive games, recorded a season-low two points on 1-for-11 shooting from the field. Penn State (7-8, 4-7) out-rebounded Maryland 40-24, including 11-5 on the offensive boards.

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“It really came down to 16 turnovers and we couldn’t get a rebound in the second half,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “And a lot of it is because of our size. I’ll have to watch the film, I thought we were trying to box out, we just couldn’t get the kid (Penn State forward John Harrar, who recorded 12 rebounds) boxed out.”

Despite committing five turnovers in the game’s first five minutes, and 11 total in the first half, Maryland regrouped from the sloppy start. The Terps scored 12 straight points to take a 23-14 lead with 2:47 remaining in the first, but the Nittany Lions responded with a 9-0 run to tie the game at 23 at halftime.

Penn State went on a 7-0 run to take a 43-36 lead with 9:40 remaining, the Nittany Lions’ largest lead. Maryland cut the deficit as close as one, 47-46, with under seven minutes. Penn State went over five minutes without a made field goal but was able to keep its lead with key free throws. The Terps got into early foul trouble, which the Nittany Lions took advantage of, making all 16 of their 18 attempts in the second half.

In back-to-back possessions, down 53-48 with under four minutes remaining, Wiggins missed a wide-open 3-pointer on the wing, and then after forcing a turnover, sophomore guard Hakim Hart missed a fast break layup, a sequence that would have tied the game.

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“Guys just weren’t locked in offensively,” Turgeon said, “and we have to do a better job of setting our man up to get open. Or if we’re overplayed, go backdoor and get layups. Not just when the coach draws it up, it’s got to be part of basketball and what you do. When I draw it up, we get backdoor layups. We didn’t make them all and it’s figuring that out.”

PENN ST. 55, MARYLAND 50

MARYLAND (10-8): Scott 3-7 2-3 9, Smith 0-2 2-2 2, Ayala 6-11 9-9 23, Morsell 3-8 0-0 6, Wiggins 1-11 0-0 2, Hart 2-6 0-0 4, Hamilton 2-3 0-2 4, Smart 0-0 0-0 0, Mona 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-48 13-16 50.

PENN ST. (7-8): Harrar 2-4 5-6 9, Lundy 1-7 0-0 2, Brockington 4-12 5-6 13, Jones 1-9 0-0 2, Wheeler 3-8 2-2 11, Dread 3-7 0-0 8, Sessoms 2-6 2-2 6, Buttrick 1-1 2-2 4. Totals 17-54 16-18 55.

Halftime — 23-23. 3-Point Goals — Maryland 3-17 (Ayala 2-6, Scott 1-3, Hamilton 0-1, Hart 0-1, Morsell 0-3, Wiggins 0-3), Penn St. 5-23 (Wheeler 3-6, Dread 2-6, Brockington 0-1, Sessoms 0-1, Jones 0-4, Lundy 0-5). Rebounds — Maryland 26 (Scott, Morsell, Wiggins, Hart 4), Penn St. 36 (Harrar 13). Assists — Maryland 6 (Morsell 2), Penn St. 9 (Brockington, Buttrick 2). Total Fouls — Maryland 15, Penn St. 16.

NO. 7 OHIO STATE@MARYLAND

Monday, 9 p.m.

TV: FS1 Radio: 105.7 FM

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