Despite Huerter's hot shooting, Maryland loses to Syracuse, 72-70, in Big Ten/ACC Challenge

Syracuse, N.Y. — Ever since the matchup was announced last spring, Maryland guard Kevin Huerter was looking forward to Monday night’s basketball game against Syracuse at the Carrier Dome.

It was a team he followed growing up 2½ hours east in Clifton Park and a program he might have committed to had Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim recruited him a little more seriously.


The homecoming turned out to be bittersweet for the 6-foot-7 sophomore.

Struggling with his 3-point shot for most of the season, Huerter put on an impressive shooting performance that led one courtside fan to yell, “Oh, my god,” when he threw in a 35-footer that barely touched the net on its way through.


But just as happened in his career-high 26-point performance last season at home against Nebraska, Huerter’s season-high of 23 points that included hitting seven of his first eight 3-pointers weren’t enough as the Terps lost to the Orange, 72-70.

Huerter had the same feelings after Monday’s loss that he did after losing to the Cornhuskers.

“It’s frustrating, it’s bittersweet, but it’s not a good [feeling] losing anytime,” said Huerter, whose two-handed 90-foot heave right before the buzzer fell several feet short. “It doesn’t matter how many points you score or shots you make. Whoever was here, we have one goal of winning, and we didn’t do that today.”

Said Maryland coach Mark Turgeon: “You feel like you wasted one, 7-for-9 from 3, and some deep shots, you feel like you wasted a great effort on his part.”

As happened in its first loss of the season, Maryland had a chance to take control of the game at the end.

But some shaky free-throw shooting — the Terps were 6-for-11 in the second half and 13-for-20 for the game — and two crucial turnovers among the 18 they made against Syracuse’s suffocating 2-3 zone turned the game in favor of the Orange (6-0).

It also negated the fact that Maryland had a season-high 22 assists on 23 baskets.

Along with the missed free throws and the two late turnovers, one each by sophomore point guard Anthony Cowan Jr. and freshman guard Darryl Morsell, Maryland was also outrebounded for the first time this season.


The Orange held a 38-31 advantage on the boards, including 13 from 6-8 freshman forward Oshae Brissett, who also scored 15 points. Sophomore guard Tyus Battle led Syracuse with 18 points.

“We had the lead [the last time with 1:42 remaining on a 3-pointer by Huerter], we missed some free throws late, had a couple of turnovers late, we didn’t get a shot off at the 55-second timeout, we had a play called, we didn’t read it right, we had a guy open, we missed it, then we didn’t have a good possession,” Turgeon said.

The play was designed for Huerter.

“It kind of broke down. They overplayed a little bit,” Huerter said. “Anthony’s so good at dribble-driving, he was just trying to make a play and lost his footing, lost the ball, that’ll happen.”

Said Turgeon: “It’s hard. That zone’s good; you can’t really run anything. I thought our guys did a great job. Rebound a little better, make a couple of more free throws, it might have been a different outcome.”

It was the second loss in three games and four days for Maryland (6-2) on its extended two-stop road trip that began Friday night with a 63-61 loss to St. Bonaventure in the opening round of the Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville, Fla.


It was also the fourth straight defeat for the Terps in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge since they switched leagues for the 2014-15 season.

Asked how much the setting of playing before more than 20,000 Monday after barely 200 showed up for the games last week affected his team, as well as the schedule, Turgeon said: “That was a tough stretch. They didn’t do us any favors playing on a Monday night after we were out of town, but that’s just an excuse.

“I didn’t think we competed the first 12 minutes defensively, I think that was the difference. We’re a pretty good defensive team. We just didn’t compete. They must have shot seven layups in the first 12 minutes, maybe more.”

Huerter agreed.

“I think tonight honestly we were all right against the zone. I felt we moved it well. We missed a couple of bunnies [easy shots]," said Huerter, who was 8-for-11 overall.

“Our downfall was defensively. We did not guard the way we’re capable of guarding and the way we wanted to guard going into this game. So I think that’s why we lost.”


Turgeon, whose team returns home to open Big Ten play Friday night against Purdue, didn’t think his team was tired Monday.

“It wasn’t fatigue. It was our first true road game,” Turgeon said. “That’s different. I thought we handled it well. I thought we played with poise. They’re really good. They’re long and quick, and they get hands on balls and make it difficult. I thought our guys battled. Right now we’re just not making enough plays at the end to win these close games.”

Tom Huerter said there “must have been 300 people from Clifton Park” to watch the younger of his two sons play. As Kevin Huerter flung the desperation 3-pointer after getting the rebound of a missed free throw with under a second to play, the elder Huerter had one thought.

“I wish it was from 35,” Tom Huerter said.

Fernando’s foul troubles

During the 19 minutes he was on the court Monday, Maryland freshman center Bruno Fernando was close to being dominant, finishing with 13 points, four rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals.


But the 21 minutes he was on the bench, a large chunk of it because of early and late foul trouble, the Terps missed the presence of the 6-10 Angolan.

“I felt like he hardly played the second half. We tried to do some offense-defense [substitutions]. He lost his rhythm a little bit,” Turgeon said.

It was Fernando’s fourth foul, coming when Big Ten official Ted Valentine ruled that he stepped on Brissett’s toe trying to box out, came with 6:55 and the Terps ahead 59-57, seemed to help revive Syracuse.

“We had a stop and the ball,” Turgeon said. "It was a big foul on him. It was his fourth, and it really kind of changed the game.”