SYRACUSE, NY – Almost a year later, he saw his team retire to a zone defense in a horrible loss to Pittsburgh in the Big Ten / ACC Challenge, when he then challenged the entire country with the words "Please, zone." – Maryland coach Mark Turgeon did not need to repeat the proclamation to his players on Monday night against Syracuse.
The Terrapins were subtly confident that they would arrive at the Carrier Dome and ultimately prove that they could cut off the defense of the area that Orange's head coach, Jim Boeheim, deployed.
But Maryland could not solve the Syracuse area when it really mattered in the last minute of Monday's 72-70 loss. After the Orange Tyus Battle guard hit a crucial 3-pointer to give his team a 68-66 lead with less than a minute left, Maryland made losses on his next two possessions, wasting the opportunity to win for the first time in the Big Ten / ACC Challenge as a member of Big Ten.
Maryland (6-2) was in a position to win in large part due to the production of second-year guard Kevin Huerter, a native of nearby Clifton Park, N.Y., who finished with 23 points. But that performance was overshadowed on a night when Maryland committed 18 turnovers and failed to forge an offensive identity on the stretch against Orange's raucous 6-0 defense.
Playing her third game in four days, Maryland looked rested and calm in her first real test of the season in one of the noisiest places in college basketball. The Terrapins could easily have had nerves. The Orange immediately filled its area, and the building gradually amplified to a higher decibel level as the night progressed. That included a lot of fuss; At one point, a Syracuse student shouted audibly and sarcastically: "Lost before San Buenaventura!"
Maryland got angry with the Bonnies at the Emerald Coast Clbadic in Florida on Friday night, and while the Terrapins rallied with a victory over New Mexico on Saturday, they had something to prove against Orange. It started off as promising: the Terrapins connected five of their first eight shots and seemed to settle into an offensive rhythm. But Maryland also continued to struggle with its self-inflicted tendencies. He entered the night with an average of 17.1 turnovers per game.
Maryland had 11 turnovers in the first half alone on Monday night, which was compounded by their paint problems. The Terrapins entered the third night in the country in the bounces margin (plus-14.7), but were pushed by Orange. Syracuse maintained a rebound advantage 38-32 and outscored Maryland 42-20 in the paint.
Had it not been for the timely shooting of Maryland, the appearance of the game would have been very different. As Maryland had six consecutive unsecured possessions in the middle of the first half, Syracuse made an 8-0 run to take a 32-25 lead. But Maryland responded with its own 8-0 burst, thanks to a Huerter 3-pointer from the left corner that helped throw the Terrapins down 36-35 at halftime.
As much as Maryland had trouble finding her balance in painting, she received a boost from freshman Bruno Fernando (13 points) at the beginning of the second half, when she scored four points in a row. That did not soften the Syracuse area. Jackson hit another 3-pointer with 13:12 to play, and Huerter followed with a 25-foot bomb and two possessions later to keep Maryland ahead. That helped establish a frantic 10-minute end. Siracusa tied the game at 60 from a dunk of Paschal Chukwu with just over six minutes to go, and Naranja went ahead 65-63 in a Marek Dolezaj final with 3:05 to play.
It was then that Huerter, who had dozens of family and friends in the stands, tried to save the Terrapins. He gave Maryland a one-point lead with a three-pointer with 1:42 remaining, and Maryland had the opportunity to extend the lead on the next possession after Fernando was fouled. But he missed the front of the one-on-one free throw, and Battle made Maryland pay with a corner triple that gave Syracuse a 68-66 lead with 59 seconds remaining.
Maryland squandered the next two possessions. First, Cowan lost control of the ball in the lane, then freshman Darryl Morsell did the same and committed a foul with 13 seconds remaining, which sent Chukwu to the line. He lost both shots, and Huerter wasted a three pointer with seven seconds to play to get Maryland within 70-69. But Battle was released in the press break during the inbound, finishing an easy bucket at the other end with five seconds to play.