After logging 13 straight wins, the Maryland men’s basketball team knows what it feels like to lose again.
Poor shooting, mental miscues and turnovers doomed the Terps on Wednesday night. Maryland lost to Florida State, 65-62, in front of 14,157 fans inside Comcast Center, marking the team’s first loss in 62 days. But not all of those fans saw the end of the game, as many started streaming for the exits with just more than a minute left in regulation.
“We just had a lot of guys not make good decisions tonight,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “We really didn’t play well. Give them credit. This is the first time we’ve seen that type of defense for 40 minutes, and we didn’t handle it well.”
“Guys are down, but coach picked us up,” guard Nick Faust added. “He told us just to push through this and learn from it. There’s nothing else you can do. We already lost.”
Even with all the mistakes – the Terps committed 18 turnovers, shot just 36 percent from the field and went on multiple scoring droughts in the second half – Maryland (13-2, 1-1 ACC) found itself in position to mount a comeback and potentially win late in the game.
Facing an eight-point deficit with just more than a minute left in regulation, the Terps scored five quick points off a slam-dunk from Alex Len and a 3-pointer from Seth Allen. Following two free throws from the Seminoles (10-5, 2-0), Faust hit a circus 3-point shot that arched like a rainbow over an extended arm and hit nothing but net.
Faust’s shot brought the Terps to within one point of the Seminoles, at 63-62, and after Michael Snaer missed one of his free throws, Maryland was in prime position to either win or tie the game. But on the Terps’ final possession, Allen forced a desperation shot instead of looking inside to a wide-open Len and had it blocked by Snaer.
“We were saying, ‘Hey, we’ll take a two. We’ll take a two.’ Everybody knew that, spread the word,” Turgeon said. “They zoned up on him pretty good, and he couldn’t get by them. He had to take the shot.”
With one second left on the clock, Florida State put the icing on the cake with one final free throw to claim its first victory in Comcast Center with Leonard Hamilton at the helm of the program. It’s also the first 2-0 start to ACC play for the Seminoles in program history.
Despite the resiliency shown late by the Terps, they put themselves in an insurmountable hole due to sloppy and inconsistent play. Maryland shot just 36.7 percent from the field, while committing 18 turnovers. The Terps also went on a nearly seven-minute scoring drought in the second half, when they missed 11 straight shots.
“It was mental and us just not accepting pressure,” Faust said. “We let the pressure get to us early in the game, and then they got confidence and kept doing it throughout the whole game. We’ve got to get better at accepting pressure.”
Florida State, meanwhile, blocked 13 of Maryland’s shots and went on separate runs of 16-2 and 13-3 to overcome a nine-point halftime deficit.
“We were never in sync,” Turgeon said. “We panicked offensively. We panicked as players. We panicked as a coaching staff a little bit just trying to figure it out. You keep subbing guys in, trying different things. We’ll watch the film and try to learn from it.”
Len paced Maryland with 15 points and 10 rebounds, with Faust (14) and Allen (13) not far behind in scoring. But the game-changer of the evening was Florida State forward Okaro White, who finished with 20 points and nine rebounds.
White had a stretch in the second half where he scored 13 straight points for the Seminoles.
“In the end, they just had the best player on the floor tonight in Okaro White,” Turgeon said. “We had no answer for him. When the game was on the line and we had to show toughness, we didn’t have it.”
After a weak nonconference slate – except for Kentucky, Stony Brook and arguably George Mason and Northwestern – the Terps have faced increased competition in ACC play. And despite handling Virginia Tech with ease, Maryland fell flat in its second conference game, looking like a young team much in need of work with outings against Miami, NC State, North Carolina and Duke on the horizon.
And with the loss, the fact remains: Despite winning 13 games, the Terps have yet to beat anyone of consequence.
“All teams go through this,” Faust said. “It’s another loss. We’ve got to get through it. We have another big game coming up, so we have to learn from this.”