Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Maryland men’s basketball lost another close road game.
After having the lead change hands six times in the first half, along with six ties, the Terps never held the lead in the second half on Wednesday night, falling to Penn State by four. It’s Maryland’s sixth straight road loss and yet another game it failed to close out.
The sequence that really killed the Terps’ comeback came shortly after the final media timeout. With Maryland down 67-61, Bruno Fernando managed to get behind Penn State’s defense as Anthony Cowan was crossing halfcourt. Cowan threw the alley-oop to Fernando, who was not able to handle the high pass, resulting in a turnover. Penn State capitalized and quickly made a three-pointer at the other end to extend the lead to nine.
That was just one of 14 Maryland turnovers on the night, as the Terps’ ball control problem once again reared its ugly head. At times this season, Maryland has been able to mitigate some of those issues with an above-average transition defense, but the Nittany Lions exploited as many miscues as they could. Even though Penn State had 10 giveaways of its own, Maryland was outscored 23-13 off turnovers.
Maryland also sorely misses its rebounders. Once again, down the stretch in a close game, the Terps allowed crucial offensive boards. Penn State turned nine second-chance opportunities into 13 points; Maryland had four offensive boards and eight second-chance points. With Michal Cekovsky still day-to-day, Mark Turgeon has had to make due with just eight players for the past three games. The senior center’s absence was felt against the Nittany Lions, as the Terps also ran a double-digit deficit in points in the paint.
Maryland showed progress by closing out a home win over Wisconsin on Feb. 4, but its inability to win on the road this season has held it back all season. While the the Terps have never seemed to give up during this road slide—save for two blowout losses in early January—this loss almost surely kills any already-slim hopes of a NCAA Tournament bid.
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After completing the program’s first successful championship campaign in 42 years, men’s lacrosse has had to mentally reset and get focused for the title defense.
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