By Todd McElwee
Sometimes patience is a virtue.
It certainly is for the University of Maryland men’s basketball team. Eight days after upsetting top-ranked North Carolina, the Terrapins turned in another impressive offensive effort but were betrayed by their defense Sunday, falling to No. 3 Duke, 93-84, at the Comcast Center.
Sophomore guard Eric Hayes, who tallied nine assists against Duke, is averaging 10.6 points per game.
“I think offensively we’ve been more patient on offense,” said guard Eric Hayes, who dished out a career-high nine assists. “We’ve been trying to go inside more, and I think the inside-out offense has been working for us.”
Offensively, Maryland is rounding into form. The games against Duke and North Carolina, in which the Terps scored 82 points, trail only the game against Morgan State, an 89-point effort, as the team’s highest outputs of the season. Four players -- Greivis Vasquez, James Gist, Bambale Osby and Hayes -- are averaging double figures in scoring with Vasquez pacing the team at 16.5 per contest.
Sunday epitomized the Terps’ budding maturity with the ball. Rarely forcing the issue, Maryland patiently worked the Blue Devils, shooting a season-best 54.4 (31-for-57) percent from the floor.
In the half-court, the Terps pounded the ball inside to Gist (26 points) and Osby, who recorded career highs with 20 points and 15 boards -- his third double-double in the last four games. When opportunities to run surfaced, Maryland shot out for easy buckets like Gist’s thunderous tomahawk dunk via a Vasquez full-court feed in the first half.
“We took some bad shots but we shot 54 percent. … I’ll take that against the No. 3 team in the country,” coach Gary Williams said.
Maryland couldn’t make a stop in the second half. Duke scored the initial nine points, shot 53.1 percent from the floor and 42.9 percent from behind the arc following intermission. That erased a nine-point halftime deficit and the Blue Devils posted the highest point total of any Maryland opponent this year. The Terps forced just 10 turnovers, only four of which occurred during the final 20 minutes.
“They came out hard and we came out laid back,” said Gist, who led the team in scoring for the seventh time in the past eight games.
Rebounding spurred the Blue Devils’ comeback. Although Maryland won the battle of the boards, 37-36, Duke killed the Terps on the offensive glass, 22-15 overall and 9-6 after the break. It was the first thing Williams brought up during his postgame press conference.
“The key thing was they were able to even up the rebounding for the game, which means they really out-rebounded us in the second half,” Williams said. “There were several there that we could have had which would have given us more than one shot at the basket. We didn't do that, and when you’re playing a good team you have to do things right, and we made some mistakes by not getting the ball. … They got a couple of possessions they shouldn’t have had and that was the game.”
Williams said he would take nothing from the loss. Dropping to 12-8 overall and 2-3 in the ACC, each of Maryland’s 11 remaining contests, all against conference foes, take on additional importance as the Terps aspire to earn a second consecutive NCAA tournament berth.
Despite the setback, both staff and team remain optimistic about the remainder of the season. Maryland has won six of eight and it seems patience is beginning to pay off.
“I think we’re doing it,” Williams said. “We’ve won six out of our last eight. We beat the No. 1 team in the country. … We had the No. 3 team in the country down nine at halftime.”
Issue 3.5: January 31, 2008