But the Seminoles’ superior physicality proved the difference, and Florida State steamrolled to an 84-70 victory at Tallahassee’s Tucker Center.
With the defeat, the Terps fell to 12-5, 2-2 in the ACC and got a rude awakening in how far they have to go to develop an inside presence and fighting spirit formidable enough to take on the conference foes in store.
“We’ve played two league games on the road [losses at N.C. State and Florida State] and given up [an average of] 82 points,” said Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon, disappointed by his players’ failure to rebound and defend with the intensity the game demanded. “That’s not going to get it done.”
Florida State (12-6, 3-1), which returned nine players from the team that reached last season’s NCAA tournament’s region semifinals, presented a tremendous challenge for the young Terps, leading the ACC in shots blocked (6.8 per game), steals (8.8 per game) and field-goal defense (36.1 percent).
And the Seminoles flexed their muscle early, with the 6-foot-10 Bernard James and 6-11 Xavier Gibson scoring the team’s first six points over the Terps’ 7-1 Alex Len, and using their speed to punish Maryland on misses and turnovers with easy baskets in transition.
Terrell Stoglin led all players with 27 points, and freshman Nick Faust was the only other Terrapin to finish in double figures (10 points).
But Maryland’s guards were shaky early, and the post players struggled to hang onto the ball and finish what second-chance attempts they got.
The outlook worsened when Len and James Padgett each drew their second fouls and were relegated to the bench. Florida State, meanwhile, brought a 7-footer off the bench who, at 262 pounds, outweighed the biggest Terrapin by roughly 40 pounds.
Senior Sean Mosley drew the tough defensive task of guarding Deividas Dulkys, who scored a career-high 32 in Florida State’s 90-57 rout of North Carolina. Mosley reduced Dulkys to a bit player, holding him to six points.
Ashton Pankey pulled Maryland within a basket, 23-21, with a nice assist from Stoglin. And Stoglin drove with a chance to tie it at 32, but James (17 points, six rebounds) batted down the ball as if it were a gnat.
Fouled on a three-point play, Stoglin converted all of his free throws to pull close, 34-33, with 1 minute 11 seconds left in the half. But Florida State’s Ian Miller drained a jumper to hand the Seminoles a 36-33 lead at the break.
Just 10 seconds into the second half, Stoglin pulled Maryland even with a three-pointer. And by the time he tied it again at 40, Stoglin had accounted for half of Maryland’s points, drawing taunts of “Ball hog! Ball hog!” from Florida State fans.
Back in the game, Len gave Maryland its first lead with 17:54 remaining.
The momentum swung wildly in the Seminoles’ favor in a two-minute span that included a botched Maryland inbounds pass that led to yet another dunk by James. Dulkys unloaded for back-to-back three-pointers.
And suddenly, the arena was deafening, and the Terps trailed, 55-45. And instead of buckling down on defense, Maryland tried frantically to match the Seminoles’ scoring burst, only to fall further behind.
Florida State placed four players in double figures while outrebounding the Terps 33-29, forcing 15 turnovers and grabbing 10 steals.