Maryland men’s basketball missed shots, and Davidson made them. The Terps were poor on both ends throughout the opening game of the Asheville Championship, shooting 35.1% from the field, including 5-for-23 from three. Meanwhile, Davidson shot 42.9%, including eight of 15 shots from distance.
Despite a late Maryland comeback in the final three minutes, Donta Scott missed a defensive assignment, which allowed Davidson guard Bobby Durkin to drill a go-ahead three — his fourth of the game — with 9.4 seconds to go.
Maryland couldn’t score on the ensuing possession, and fell to the Wildcats, 64-61. It will play the loser of Clemson and UAB in the third-place game on Sunday.
Maryland head coach Kevin Willard told reporters before the season that his team could have a slow start to the season. He didn’t mention that Maryland would look entirely lost on offense in its second game.
There were prevalent concerns after the Terps’ opening victory against Mount St. Mary’s, including whether they would be able to shoot the ball at a sustainable rate. Through two games, the Terps have played with an alarming lack of fluidity on offense.
Willard has constantly expressed his desires to force the offense through forward Julian Reese, but that strategy didn’t work in the first half. Reese was dominant in the paint with six points and five rebounds, but the rest of the team shot 9-for-28 in the period.
Davidson’s defense often forced Reese to find the open man. But the Terps went an abysmal 3-for-15 from three in the opening half, gifting the Wildcats points in transition.
The Terps relied on isolation plays and transition breaks for their buckets. Finding themselves down by as much as eight midway through the half, Jahmir Young made key plays to keep the game close.
It wasn't a clean defensive performance either, with Maryland giving Davidson multiple open looks after defensive breakdowns. Davidson took advantage with a 10-0 run just ahead of the midway point of the first half.
Despite Maryland’s sloppiness and sheer inability to hold down a clean offensive possession — evidenced by its seven turnovers and Davidson’s seven offensive rebounds — the Terps found themselves down just one at the half, 33-32.
The Wildcats got out to a game-high nine-point advantage a few minutes into the half, and Maryland needed a spark in the worst way. Jordan Geronimo, who had looked uncomfortable all game long, was put back into the game at the center position. Down low, his athleticism contributed to a Davidson scoring drought.
While Maryland didn’t immediately come back, it slowly crawled closer, eventually pulling within a possession with a little under nine minutes to go.
Even with that, a common theme throughout the contest hurt the Terps. Every time Maryland gained momentum, Davidson found an open three-point shooter and drained it.
It looked bleak for the Terps at times thereafter, but they locked in on the defensive end, allowing Young and Reese to bring Maryland back. The duo combined for 18 of Maryland’s 29 second-half points, but Reese missed three free throws down the stretch.
Maryland’s offensive woes cost it the game. It didn’t score its 50th point until fewer than four minutes remained. That was the start of a late run that brought the Terps close, but Davidson was the better team Friday.
Three things to know
1. Maryland couldn’t shoot or defend the three. Through two games, the Terps have been unable to hit 3-pointers. Yet, as was the case a season ago, they still shoot them with frequency.
On the other side of the ball, Davidson constantly drew players into the paint and found the open man on the perimeter.
2. The Terps lacked any rhythm on offense. Maryland’s ball-handlers often looked confused when in the half-court, with very few possessions leading to a clean look. Fortunately for the Terps, they have four months to figure out a way to score consistently.
3. A shortened bench. Willard opted last game to send out 10 players in the opening six minutes. On Friday, just eight players saw the floor.