Welcome back to the Testudo Times film room. Halfway through the second half of Maryland’s senior night on Sunday, the Terps were sitting comfortably with a 14-point lead and a tie for sixth place in the Big Ten was just 10 minutes away. Instead of capturing that placement, he 7-seed in the Big Ten tournament and and ending an absolute grind of a season with a win, Maryland collapsed.
After the game, head coach Mark Turgeon called the loss “devastating.” That might be an understatement. Following back-to-back losses to end the season, the Terps have dropped in bracketology seeding projections, but they aren’t on the bubble just yet. They are currently projected by bracketology expert Joe Lunardi to have odds of at least 90% to make the tournament, but an ensuing matchup against Michigan State in the second round of the Big Ten tournament on Thursday could have a big impact.
With what Terp fans thought was a secure lead, this film breakdown was supposed to be highlighting the three seniors contributions on a night they were honored. Instead, the only film to show is from the last few minutes against Penn State where Maryland completely blew the game.
Maryland played sloppy, broke down defensively and reverted back to its offense displayed earlier in the season with one-on-one play and little off-ball movement. The Terps stopped attacking the basket and settled for long distance jumpers late in the game, almost all of which hit the iron. Let’s take to the film to see how this collapse occurred.
The Terps were rushed on offense and settled for poor shots in the second half
It started when the Nittany Lions applied full court pressure to speed up Maryland and force bad shots. The Terps fell right into that trap, taking rushed shots with plenty of time on the shot clock.
Forward Hakim Hart throws the ball to guard Darryl Morsell in the most opportune trapping spot on the floor for the defense. Morsell is lucky he gets a pass off quickly back to Hart on the move. However, instead of slowing down and getting into half court offense or even finding open shooters on the perimeter, Hart attacks the basket and takes a difficult, off-balance floater that doesn't come close.
Guard Eric Ayala breaks the press here by passing ahead to fellow junior Aaron Wiggins, which is the right play. However, instead of settling into offense once the press is broken, Wiggins fires a deep three five seconds into the possession. These rushed shots bailed out the defense and gave Penn State more chances to cut Maryland’s lead.
Maryland built up its lead early in the game by getting downhill to the hoop and not settling for long distance jumpers. When the lead started to crumble, the Terps went back to one-on-one play and forced threes.
In the early part of the season, before Maryland went on a five game win streak, its offense was unproductive due to a lack of movement and ball watching. The Terps’ offensive efficiency significantly improved as the season went on, allowing them to go on a win streak and upset quality opponents. However, on Sunday night against Penn State, Maryland went back to its old ways.
Here, the Terps are in five out offense with Wiggins trying to make something happen. Everyone who doesn't have the ball is simply staring at Wiggins, making the defense’s job easy. Wiggins tries to attack Penn State’s big off the dribble and ends up kicking it out to Morsell, who has struggled from three this season, where he launches from the corner. This was a bad offensive possession late in the game with Penn State only trailing by three.
This is another contested three from Morsell that doesn't fall. Again, Maryland settled late in this game, instead of getting to the rim. The Terps have had the most success on offense this season when they don't force threes, but attack the rim and allow the three-point line to open up for in-rhythm looks. Maryland did not do that to close this game and missed six of its last seven attempts from beyond the arc.
Penn State had taken the lead here and the Terps desperately needed a bucket. They went to Ayala to deliver in a one-on-one situation, while everyone else just watched. Ayala tried to create some space for a mid-range step back but couldn't get it to go.
Defensive mistakes late in the game allowed the Nittany Lions to come back
It wasn't just poor offense that derailed the Terps late, as defensive miscues allowed Penn State to get open looks.
Penn State runs a dribble handoff set for Seth Lundy, who went off against the Terps for 31 points in the best game of his career. It’s unclear what pick and roll coverage Maryland was in, but it seems like the Terps were trying to hedge and recover.
The problem here is forward Jairus Hamilton does not properly hedge, he simply stunts at Lundy than tries to recover to his man before Morsell is back in position, which allows Lundy to turn the corner for the lay-in.
This play starts in another dribble handoff where big man Galin Smith and Wiggins are not on the same page, which leaves Smith in no mans land and allows the Nittany Lion guard to drive right. This forces Morsell to come over to help, completely turning his back on his man, who cuts in and gets the feed for an easy finish.
Forward Donta Scott gets caught ball watching on defense and loses his man, Lundy, who was the best player on the floor all game. Scott is initially in the right help position, but when the drive starts to come and Lundy drifts over to the opposite wing, Scott needs to follow. Instead he doesn't run to closeout until Lundy already catches it. This was the dagger for Penn State, sealing the upset win and spoiling Maryland’s senior night.