Looking to rebound from a tough loss on the road in Raleigh against NC State, the Maryland Terrapins fell to the Pittsburgh Panthers, 83 to 79.
Unlike other games this season, the Terrapins got rolling early, starting the game on a 9-2 run to blitz the Panthers early on. Evan Smotrycz hit his first two shots of the game and Jake Layman finally got an open three to fall, helping extend the lead to 9-2.
The energy was notable early with Dez Wells showing physical emotion as well as Layman showing his excitement over his buried three. The fire that seemed to escape the Terps in Raleigh when they took on the Wolfpack of NC State seemed to return with the students at the Comcast center.
After the hot start by Maryland, they would cool off a bit. On one possession, they were able to get four chances at a score, and were able to find open shots, but wouldn't score, keeping the score at 11-8. The next possession down, Roddy Peters found Wells open underneath for an open lay-up but the Panthers would find a way to score two straight buckets, one being off a follow-up dunk by Talib Zana.
Smotrycz would continue his hot start and bury a three with a hand in his face to extend the Maryland lead to 16-12, but a made shot cut the lead to two. After a hot Maryland start, both teams would be relatively cool from then on, making for a back-and-forth game.
Pitt would begin to assert their dominance, however, hitting a couple of big shots followed by Lamar Patterson getting fouled while attempting a three-point basket by Nick Faust. After a series in which a few fouls were called. much to the displeasure of Terps fans, Seth Allen helped seize some momentum back, stealing the ball and drawing a clear-path foul. He hit both free throws and Wells drew the foul on his ensuing shot. Wells hit both free throws, helping guide the Terps back on top.
After gaining a lead of one, the Terps lost some traction and allowed a 6-0 run as the Panthers extended their lead to five. The Panthers extended their lead to seven with a score of 40-33, but the Terps would rattle off a couple of baskets by Allen and Faust to cut the lead to three before Zana made a tough shot in the post the make the score 42-37.
The half would end in a weird fashion, with an offensive foul being called on Damonte Dodd and then Wells caused the turnover and went to the line after James Robinson committed the foul. Wells missed the free throw, and the Terps went into halftime down five with a score of 42-37.
Layman and Wells seemed to get it going in the first half, with Wells scoring eight points and Layman scoring seven, two players who are crucial for the Terps down the stretch.
The second half would get off on the wrong foot with the Terps fouling Wright on a jumper. Wright would only hit one of the two free throws, but on the ensuing Terps possession, Allen jacked up a three and missed it leading to another Panthers possession.
Fouls continued to be a problem for Maryland in the second half, sending the Panthers to the line twice in the early going. Lucky for them, the Panthers only converted on two of the four shots.
The Panthers began to pull away, making tough layups and shots led by their star player Lamar Patterson, running out to a ten point lead with a score of 53-43. A couple of turnovers by Layman led to easy buckets for the Panthers.
Wells stepped up for the Terps and took the ball strong to the lane, leading to a bucket and a foul to help cut the deficit to seven heading into the first media timeout in the second half. The Terps desperately needed stops and scores to get back in the game.
After fighting to get back to single-digits, two turnovers by Faust led to two Panther buckets, extending their lead to 12. The interior defense was nearly non-existent on the two buckets, making it easy for them to score.
Charles Mitchell drew his fourth foul with 12:30 remaining in the game, setting up the rest of the game with a short rotation of big-men for coach Turgeon. Following a missed shot on the offensive end, Layman fouled Patterson to send him to the line, and the lead was extended even more, making it a 62-49 game.
After battling back to trim the deficit to seven, the Terps allowed the Panthers to stretch the lead back to 12. The battle wouldn't leave them, however, as they would battle back to make it an eight point game with around seven minutes remaining.
It seemed that down the stretch, every time the Terps were able to cut the lead to single-digits, the Panthers would answer and keep the lead at double-digits. The Terps continued to battle, but the game didn't seem like it was within reach like it really was.
The Terps would battle in the end, however. Down 79-7, Wells stole the ball and made the lay-up to cut the lead to six. On the ensuing Pitt possession, they turned the ball over, and Allen drove to the lane and drew the foul, and converted on one of the two free throws to cut the lead to five.
Josh Newkirk was sent to the line and missed both free throws, but Pitt would get the offensive rebound. Zana went to the line and made one of the two attempts.
In the end, the last-ditch effort wasn't enough and the Terps fell at home.
The Terps fought hard in the game, but close doesn't count in college basketball, and the Terps will move forward with a record of 11-9 on the season, and 3-4 in ACC play.