After erasing a 12-point deficit, Maryland had the ball at the end of regulation with its Senior Day crowd in a frenzy and a chance for a feel-good outcome that would allow the Terps to forget — if only briefly — all the losses that preceded this promising Sunday afternoon.
With the score tied, Terrell Stoglin raced up the floor, but his last-second, 3-point attempt bounded off the front of the rim.
Maryland's final regular-season game headed into an overtime period that was controlled by senior forward Mike Scott (career-high 35 points) and No. 24 Virginia in a 75-72 Cavaliers’ victory.
It was Maryland’s fourth loss in its last five games, and this one was particularly trying for the Terps (16-14, 6-10 Atlantic Coast Conference), who will open the ACC tournament in Atlanta as a No. 8 seed on Thursday at noon.
Maryland has been disappointed this season by failing to deliver a signature moment — a victory over a ranked team.
What better balm could the Terps have had than a victory Sunday over border-state rival Virginia, with a starring role for senior Sean Mosley — who had logged more than 3,000 minutes in his career and was presented with a framed Maryland jersey — in his final regular-season home game?
Mosley recorded a double-double — 17 points and 10 rebounds — and exited with 4.5 seconds left to an ovation from the announced crowd of 16,497.
“It’s something about that loss that really hurt,” he said. “But at the end of the day, we fought hard and that’s the only thing I can ask for.” It was also the final regular-season contest for center Berend Weijs and walk-on Jon Dillard.
Evidence of the game's emotional importance was provided by Maryland coach Mark Turgeon. Turgeon is always animated on the bench, but he seemed to be in a higher gear Sunday. He waved his arms toward the crowd and picked up a technical foul arguing a call in the second half.
“Unfortunately I felt like I had to act like a madman just to get us to go. I don’t like acting like that,” Turgeon said. “But when you are a coach you have to motivate everyone in the building.”
Turgeon had shuffled his lineup to open the second half with the Terps trailing 31-22 and shooting 33.3 percent. He started walk-ons Jonathan Thomas and John Auslander to open the half and briefly benched Stoglin, who was 3-for-12 at that point.
“We talked about three things at halftime and we weren't doing any of them at that point,” Turgeon said. “We talked about playing smarter, which I thought we did. We talked about playing harder and playing together.”
The Terps struggled to score early in overtime. A pair of baskets by Scott, an ACC player of the year candidate, put Virginia up, 69-63.
“He was the best player on the floor,” Turgeon said of Scott. “He made play after play. We started to double him and he just stepped out further.”
Said Virginia coach Tony Bennett: “He's got a specialty with that shot when he fades away. You can't get to it.”
Stoglin’s 3-pointer cut the deficit to two in the final minute, but Jontel Evans drove the baseline for a layup to make it 71-67 with 19 seconds left and Maryland was forced to foul at the end.
Maryland’s best chance had come when Stoglin had the ball at the end of regulation.
“Terrell was supposed to catch it on the move and he didn't. If he catches it on the move he can probably get it into the paint,” Turgeon said. “Terrell isn't shooting the ball like he was. He is forcing too many shots up. With that being said he has made a lot of big shots for us. I thought it was going in. I think that the kid is going to make it every time.”
Stoglin stopped on the court and smiled after the miss. “When I released it, it felt good,” the sophomore said.
The overtime result eclipsed Maryland’s earlier comeback.
After trailing by nine points at the half, Maryland pulled to within 41-40 on a 3-pointer by Mosley with 12:35 left in regulation.
Mosley did a pirouette in celebration as he ran down court. At that moment, the Terps seemed poised for the sort of breakthrough win they have been thirsting for.
But Virginia pulled away again and led 53-41 on a layup by Sammy Zeglinski (20 points) with 8:11 remaining.
“After the game I told them that I was proud of them and we just came up short,” Turgeon said. “That was a gutty effort from our guys.”