The boost of confidence that Maryland got from toppling Notre Dame in Sunday’s BB&T Classic apparently went to the Terrapins’ head, resulting in a lackadaisical performance and near loss to Mount St. Mary’s on Wednesday at Comcast Center.
After squandering a 16-point, first-half lead and trailing with less than three minutes remaining, Maryland pulled out a 77-74 victory thanks to a crucial block by freshman Nick Faust and more late-game heroics by sophomore Terrell Stoglin, who led all players with 23 points.
But it was hardly a “feel good” victory, despite the fact that it improved Maryland’s record to 5-3, given the Terps’ poor perimeter defense (allowing 11 three-pointers) and sloppy ball-handling in a second half in which they were outscored, 42-32.
In six previous meetings, Mount St. Mary’s had never played Maryland closer than 28 points, its best showing an 82-54 defeat in December 1987.
Coach Mark Turgeon declined to characterize it as a step backward for the young Terrapins, crediting Mount St. Mary’s with a tremendous effort and hot shooting hand. Instead of faulting his players, Turgeon said that he needed to do a better job teaching his team to guard.
Mount St. Mary’s (1-7) came into Wednesday’s contest averaging 56.4 points per game but scored 74 against Maryland on 46.4 percent shooting (including making 11 of 17 from three-point range.)
“We’re not a bad team,” Turgeon said, “but we’re not guarding. If you guard, the game isn’t close. We’ve got to figure out as a coaching staff how to teach these guys to guard better. . . . When things start to go bad, we all hang our heads.”
Stoglin was joined by three other Maryland players in double figures. James Padgett contributed 15, and freshmen Ashton Pankey and Faust adding 13 each.
It was Faust’s most well-rounded performance to date. He attributed the breakthrough to a meeting he had with Turgeon on Tuesday, in which the coach urged him to worry less about scoring and focus more on defending, rebounding and setting up plays for Stoglin and senior Sean Mosley (nine points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals, two blocks).
In addition to his 13 points, Faust finished with six rebounds, five assists and two blocks — his last block among the game’s more crucial plays.
Maryland led, 73-72, at that point, and Mount St. Mary’s was coming out of a timeout. With 16 seconds remaining, the Mount’s Julian Norfleet went up for a layup to retake the lead, and Faust made his move.
“I just went up for the block and timed it right,” Faust said.
From there, Parker hit two free throws, as did Mosley.
The game represented a measure of redemption for Pankey, who played less than one minute against Notre Dame for reasons Turgeon said would remain between the two.
Maryland was the better shooting team early, but the Mount kept it close by nailing four three-pointers in the first 11 minutes.
A layup by Padgett, fed by an assist from Mosley, gave Maryland its first double-digit lead, 31-20, with 4:55 remaining in the period.
Maryland took a 45-32 lead to the break, shooting 60 percent from the field in the first half.
But after leading by 16, the Terps found themselves in a struggle. The Mount closed the gap to 49-41 on a pair of three-pointers and trips to the free throw line. By that point they had made eight three-pointers to Maryland’s one.
When Mount St Mary’s pulled even, 59-59, on a hook by Raven Barber with less than eight minutes remaining, a smattering of boos broke out among the crowd of 9,875.
Kelvin Parker gave the Mount its first lead, 61-59, with a pair of free throws that capped a 17-3 run.
And the advantage rocked back and forth from there, with Maryland turning the ball over far too many times and failing to defend the three-point shot. But Stoglin erupted for six consecutive Maryland points in the final minutes.