CHESNUT HILL, Mass. — The Maryland basketball team is still searching for its identity, scouring high and low for any semblance of consistency to carry across multiple games. Short of hiring a private investigator to wade through the mess, the Terrapins (18-8, 6-7 ACC) seem out of ideas and options, especially after a 69-58 loss at Boston College (12-14, 4-9 ACC).
Or perhaps they’ve found their identity after all. Perhaps another confounding and disappointing letdown following a landmark win sheds light on the situation. Perhaps these are your 2012-13 Terps, enigmatic until the end, capable of toppling the nation’s second-ranked team despite a season-high 26 turnovers on one night, then laying a dreadful egg before a sparsely packed Conte Forum crowd, many of whom were actually rooting for Maryland.
“I just don’t get it,” Coach Mark Turgeon said. “I just don’t understand. We’re right here, it’s a big game. It’s not a hostile environment. You just got to want it. And it seemed like we were standing in quicksand all night, standing and watching.”
Alex Len and Seth Allen had four points apiece. Dez Wells finished with nine points, but shot 4 for 12 from the field. Due to matchup issues, Shaquille Cleare (five minutes), James Padgett (eight minutes) and Charles Mitchell (11 minutes) all played sparingly. In front of nearly 300 family members and friends, Jake Layman shot 1 for 5 from beyond the arc. Only Logan Aronhalt (season-high 26 points on seven three-pointers) reached double digits for Maryland, which shot 24.1 percent from the field after halftime, and just 18.8 percent (3 for 16) from inside the arc.
Turgeon, Aronhalt and sophomore Nick Faust all seemed equally lost during their postgame interviews. A seven-minute second-half stretch without a field goal dumbfounded Turgeon, who couldn’t figure out why his Terps, after turning in their best effort of the season against Duke, insisted on an equally awful follow-up act.
Maryland led 33-26 at halftime, capped off by an acrobatic block at the buzzer from Wells. On its first possession following intermission, however, Padgett got fouled on a layup attempt. He airballed the first free throw. The second came inches from doing the same.
“Starting the second half, we just weren’t there,” Aronhalt said. “We had the lead going into halftime, Dez had the big block, and we just came out flat in the second half. I wish I knew why. I’ve been thinking about it since the game’s been over. And I have no idea. No idea.”
Turgeon called Maryland’s 11-point loss to Virginia “rock bottom,” but the excavation might reach new depths on an assuredly dour plane ride into Baltimore. The Terps committed careless backcourt fouls and stuck Boston College on the free throw line, offering the game up for the taking. Despite getting two points from leading scorer Ryan Anderson, a 2-for-11 night from starting point guard Joe Rahon and a 1-for-7 effort from gunner Patrick Heckmann, Boston College won behind 26 points by Olivier Hanlan, including 19 in the second half.
The nail in Maryland’s coffin came courtesy of Eddie Odio, a lanky sophomore from Miami who finished with eight points, 11 rebounds and six blocks. For the second time all season, the Terps were outrebounded. When Odio rejected Len at the rim with 1:48 left, and the modest Eagles student section began chanting his name, the damage was officially done.
But things snowballed long before that point. Boston College scored on eight straight possessions, while the Terps struggled to even get a quality look against an undersized Eagles lineup. After dominating Mason Plumlee, Len faded away again. Allen, the hero against Duke, made just 2 of 8 attempts in 22 minutes. Not even Aronhalt’s herculean effort, a season-high for any Maryland player this season, could keep the Terps around down the stretch.
Much will be discussed about the Terps’ NCAA tournament chances now, and rightfully so. They hung on the bubble after beating Duke, so a bad loss at Boston College won’t exactly help matters. Until Maryland exits the ACC tournament, however, little is written in stone. Except, it seems, its insistence on riding this roller-coaster season to its finish.
“I guess it is [our identity],” Aronhalt said. “No one wants to be that way. But I don’t know what it’s a product of, what makes us that way. Coach definitely doesn’t, or he would have changed it. I guess we’re still trying to find ourselves which, this late in the season, it’s not where you want to be as a team.”