By Chris Knoche
OK, big picture: The Maryland Terrapins had four players in double figures, led by Terrell Stoglins 23 points, and held off Mt. St. Marys Mountaineers 77-74 in front of almost 10,000 fans on a soggy night at Comcast Center. The win improved the Terps to 5-3 on the young season and the Mount dropped to 1-7.
Narrow look: The Maryland Terrapins escaped a near nightmare loss to a plucky, resourceful team and were probably lucky to do so. They had multiple chances to put the opponent away early in the game but allowed them back in by authoring a dispassionate and careless second half complete with defensive lapses and untimely turnovers.
Try not to get too vexed over a game like this, Terp fans. Youre looking at a young team coming off of a big week of games against name brands like Illinois and Notre Dame. A game like this may have been predictable. Add to the fact that this is a team that has yet to solve its inherent second-half ADD issues and you get exactly what you got; a game that offered up both a close win and a great set of object lessons.
For much of the game it appeared there would be neither.
Maryland led from the start and seemed to be able to score at will in the first half. They survived some impressive three point accuracy from the Mount by attacking the basket at will and making the extra pass. Still, they were never able to put together multiple, consecutive defensive stops to drive nails in the Mounts coffin. Nursing a 27-20 lead inside the 6:00 mark of the first half, the Terps scored on three straight possessions by three different players Nick Faust, James Padgett and Sean Mosley- to force Mount St. Marys to call a full timeout down 33-20 with 4:28 left to go until the break.
With the crowd energized and the Terps clicking on offense, the lead grew to 41-26 after a Faust layup with 2:07 to play but, again, Maryland could not take advantage of their prosperity. The Mount nailed two open three pointers (note the recurring theme) in the last 90 seconds of the half and a lead that seemed destined to be near 20 at the break was only 45-32.
In the second half the Mount took advantage.
They entered the game shooting just 32 for the season from the three point line yet they were dead on all night at Comcast. The second half featured superlative play from the Mountaineers three guard backcourt of Julian Norfleet, Josh Castellanos and Kelvin Parker (47 points between them for the night). Those three started hot and got hotter.
With the Terps still up and in control at 56-44 at the 14:00 mark, the Mount went on an almost inconceivable six minute run where they outscored the home team by 17-3 and took the lead at 61-59 on a pair of Parker free throws with just seven minutes remaining.
From there the rest of the game was punch and counterpunch and- to their credit- Mt. St. Marys never, ever backed down in front of a small but vocal home crowd and a newly inspired group of Terrapins.
Padgett converted a layup to tie the game and the Mount responded on a Parker jumper to take the lead back. Down by a pair, Stoglin found Faust in the corner for a three pointer on the next Maryland possession and the Terps found themselves back on top at 64-63 with 6:41 remaining.
The game went back and forth until Stoglin scored 6 consecutive points around a Mount bucket to make the lead 73-70 with 1:52 remaining. Again, the Mount responded on a Castellanos runner with 1:24 remaining and the lead was back to a single point. On the ensuing possession Maryland held the ball for 30 seconds before Stoglin missed a jumper in traffic in the lane. Mt. St. Marys rebounded with 45 seconds remaining and seemed to have a shot at a program changing win.
With 25 seconds remaining Norfleet drove to the basket and seemed to have a good look at a short shot that would give his team the lead. Instead, that opportunity was wiped away by a sensational block from Faust who had left his man to come from out of nowhere to save the possession for Maryland. The ball caromed off the glass to the Mounts Danny Thompson who rushed an attempted putback and the ball fell to Terp sophomore Mychal Parker who was fouled with 15 seconds remaining and his team up by just one.
This is the same Parker who had started the season 4-17 from the foul line yet had recovered to hit 6-6 on Sunday in the win against Notre Dame. So which Mychal Parker would we see? He calmly swished the first free throw and, after a Mount timeout, did the same on the second.
The Mountaineers got an uncontested dunk with 4 seconds remaining to narrow the lead to 1 again but were slow to foul Mosley on the ensuing inbounds pass and he went to the line with just 1 second remaining. He nailed both and a Norfleet prayer at the buzzer fell short.
Final 77-74, Terps.
While its a little tough to dress this one up, there are some positives to take out of this. First, it was a win. At the end of the season they dont ask How? They ask, how many?
Second, they had dramatically improved play from both Faust and redshirt freshman Ashton Pankey. In addition to his crucial block, Faust had 13 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists and seemed much more confident on the offensive end (perhaps because Stoglin seemed to play more point guard in this game). Pankey had found himself firmly in Head Coach Mark Turgeons doghouse after his play and his body language the last few games. Never one to hold a grudge, Turgeon inserted Pankey early in both halves and got results in both cases. For the game he had 13 points and 5 rebounds and had some success while teamed with Padgett (15 points, 6 rebounds) in the interior.
Third, given their depth issues, this team cannot ever get enough true-to-life work on end of game situations when they practice. While many in attendance may have left shaking their heads at what they witnessed a game like this can be invaluable as a teaching tool.
The last thing actually happened about two hours before the game. Injured point guard PeShon Howard actually had on his game shoes and was casually taking jumpers in an empty Comcast Center just a few short days after getting out of his walking boot. His return and good health- will be critical to this team moving forward. Oh, by the way, this was Marylands eighth game of the seasontwo more and they will also have freshman center Alex Len available to them. He will help immediately.
All in all, it was an interesting night at Comcast Center. Certainly no one would have predicted the night as it unfolded. Maryland held off a determined opponent that had every opportunity to get a historic win on the road.
And it was a win. Did I mention that?