Take away the turnovers, and it was another blowout victory for the Maryland basketball team, consistent with its nine-game winning streak against nonconference cupcakes. The Terrapins shot 58.1 percent from the field in their 71-38 victory, outrebounded Monmouth by 15 and allowed fewer than 40 points for the first time since Dec. 1, 2010.
And yet there’s the nasty business of the season-high 23 giveaways, many of which were indeed given away via bad passes or mental errors. The postgame mood didn’t feel like a 71-38 win, nor did it feel like Maryland had racked up its longest winning streak since 2002.
Rather, it felt like disappointment, mostly held over from the Terps’ worst half this season, but the turnover situation dirtied the doorway into a nine-day break.
“I told them after the game, ‘I expect a lot out of you,’ ” Coach Mark Turgeon said. “ ‘I know how talented you are and what we can do. As a coach, I judge myself on what I’m getting out of my team. Right now, I’m not getting out of you what I should be getting out of you. Therefore I’m frustrated, and I want more. I have to figure it out. I want to look out there and say, I’m getting out of my team what I’m supposed to be. We’re not right now, hopefully soon we will.’ ”
Turgeon seemed more bewildered than irate, wondering how his young bunch could follow up two of the season’s best practices with 14-turnovers in the opening 20 minutes, “probably one of the worst halves of basketball one of my teams had played ever.”
The inconsistencies and clumsy mistakes have been discussed at length as Turgeon tempers expectations for a talented team clearly on the cusp of something bigger. But underperformance has become a nasty, confounding thorn in Turgeon’s side, especially with ACC play right around the corner.
Allen followed what Turgeon called the freshman’s “his best practice of the year as far as a point guard goes” with seven turnovers in 15 minutes. Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell were “lost, spinning in circles.” Even Pe’Shon Howard, who finished with a game-high seven assists against three turnovers, made some uncharacteristically risky decisions in transition, forcing alley-oops when simply running the offense would suffice.
“We’ve worked really hard on turnovers, so don’t ask the question,” Turgeon said. “We worked hard on it. Really disappointed. To me, it was more mental than anything. We just weren’t mentally into the game. Second half was better, guys played better. Took care of business.”
The Terps appeared on the cusp of taking care of business within the first five minutes, running the lead to 11-2 thanks to an array of easy layups and dunks. But Monmouth ratcheted up its defensive intensity, swarming Maryland along the perimeter and allowing little breathing room. The Terps struggled to work their half-court sets all night.
Nick Faust finished with a game-high 16 points. Alex Len hit 5 of 6 shots for 14 points, adding 10 rebounds and a career-high five blocks. Dez Wells threw down another monstrous line: 10 points (5 of 8 shooting), five rebounds, two assists, two blocks, one steal. Monmouth shot just 20.6 percent from the field, the sixth straight game Maryland has held its opponent under 35 percent shooting.
But Turgeon knows he can extract more than what his Terps turned out Wednesday night, and that’s what makes efforts like these so frustrating. Maryland’s players echoed the same frustration. They, too, expect better .
“You guys want me to be honest, I’m honest. I’m disappointed,” Turgeon said. “They have to give me more. Problem is everyone’s telling them how good they are because of their record. And they’re listening, instead of listening to me. I have a lot of time with them. They’ll all be fine.”