Instead of a quality win, Maryland men’s basketball got a lump of coal in the form of a 78-74 loss to Seton Hall on Saturday night.
A hard fought game saw the Maryland down 71-68 with under a minute left. After the Pirates missed one at the line, Anthony Cowan Jr. brought the game within one with a deep triple. Seton Hall was able to extend the lead back to three at the free throw line, and a missed three by Eric Ayala essentially sealed the deal. Ayala would make another attempt with 2.7 seconds left, cutting the lead to two. Maryland forced a timeout with solid defense on the initial inbound, but the Pirates were able to inbound on the second try and two more free throws meant it was a wrapt.
As has typically been the case for Maryland this season, its defense was more effective than its offense. The Terps held Seton Hall to just 46 percent from the field while outrebounding the Pirates 36-31. However, Maryland let Seton Hall get hot from beyond the arc in the second half, finishing 5-of-8 in the final 20 minutes after starting 3-of-13.
Bruno Fernando led the way for the Terps with 19 points and 10 rebounds, one of four Maryland players in double figures. He was joined by his frontcourt-mate Jalen Smith’s 14 points and eight boards, while Cowan added 15 of his own. Myles Powell continued to star for the Pirates, ending with a game-high 27 points. He got ample help from Myles Cale, who hit the game-winner against Kentucky and added 23 points and five rebounds tonight.
After coming out slow, Maryland found itself on the wrong end of an 11-2 deficit by the first media timeout. Despite getting solid looks against the Pirates’ 2-3 zone, nothing was falling early for the Terps. With Darryl Morsell still on the mend from a sprained ankle, Aaron WIggins earned his third start of the season in his place. Morsell entered with just under 14 minutes left, along with Ricky Lindo and Serrel Smith Jr., and and was part of an immediate 6-0 Maryland run, and an extended 9-2 run to cut the lead to 18-14 before the trio exited six minutes later.
Myles Powell reached double digits shortly after the under-8 timeout, getting there with a variety of long-distance bombs, pull-ups and drives to the rack. With the influx of bench production to buoy the Terps made a push before the half, starting inside. A string of five buckets by Smith and Fernando, anchored by stops on the other end, gave Maryland its first lead with three minutes left in the first half. Fernando put Maryland up 27-26, as a pair of free throws made him the first Terp in double figures. Maryland would go into the half with a 34-30 lead, led by Fernando’s 13 points and six boards.
Seton Hall opened the second half on a 9-2 run to take the lead back, and after some back-and-forth by the two teams, the Pirates led 52-51 with nine minutes left. Cowan joined Fernando in double figures with a fadeaway jumper that gave Maryland the lead once again. Then with the shot clock running down on a busted play, Eric Ayala found Morsell beyond the arc for a tightly-contested triple that hit nothing but the bottom of the net as the clock expired.
Two more Seton Hall leads were short-lived. After taking a 57-56 lead on a three with a little over six minutes left, Ayala immediately responded with one of his own, and a Smith putback made gave Maryland some breathing room. Powell tightened the air space and put Seton Hall back ahead, at 62-61, before Smith would tie it at the line. The game stayed tied entering the final media timeout.
Cale would put the Pirates ahead in the game’s final four minutes, with a on-the-mark triple, followed by a fastbreak finish that gave Seton Hall a 68-64 lead with time running down. It was mostly free throws after that. Cowan and Ayala’s made triples were a case of just not enough.
Maryland gets a week off and will be back in the Xfinity Center next Saturday for a matchup with Radford to conclude nonconference play.
Three things to know
1. Bruno Fernando powered Maryland, but it wasn’t enough. The Terps were struggling to get going in the first half until Fernando started forcing the issue inside. He delivered his fourth double-double of the season in the loss, but was less effective in the game’s closing minutes. The Pirates left him open around the perimeter down the stretch with no consequences, and he’ll have to make teams pay for that to change.
2. Maryland was legitimately eight deep. While Mark Turgeon didn’t lengthen his bench night—the top eight stayed the same—he got solid production from the whole group. Morsell and Wiggins are almost interchangeable in that fifth starter’s spot, but Lindo and Smith Jr. also provided Maryland with quality minutes on both ends, and each member of the top eight scored. Lindo is growing as a college four-man, and even forced two straight jumpball, and Smith Jr.
3. Free throws were a killer. Maryland finished 12-of-20, but that’s after a couple late makes. The Terps started 8-for-16, and that included a pair of missed one-and-one free throws. Seton Hall went 18-of-21 at the charity stripe itself, and sank its shots down the stretch to ice the win.