DURHAM, N.C. — To have any chance against 10th-ranked Duke on Saturday, Maryland’s front court had to do a better job against Mason Plumlee than it had three weeks earlier, when the 6-foot-10 forward paced Duke’s 74-61 victory at Comcast Center with a game-high 23 points.
Between them, the Plumlees accounted for 32 rebounds, just one less than Maryland had as a team. And if one statistic told the story of the game, Duke’s dominance on the boards did Saturday, translating to 21 second-chance points and a lopsided final margin, with Duke handing Maryland a 73-55 defeat.
Maryland (14-10, 4-6 ACC) was without its starting point guard, Pe’Shon Howard, who is out for the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during practice Thursday. With Howard back in College Park awaiting word on surgery, leading scorer Terrell Stoglin and freshman Nick Faust alternated ballhandling duties with mixed results.
Faust acquitted himself well, allowing Duke’s leading scorer, freshman Austin Rivers, just 11 points while leading the Terrapins in scoring (15 points) and rebounding (eight) with several strong, athletic moves to the basket against far bigger men.
Stoglin tried to do it all for his team, as is his instinct, and it ended in a 13-point performance on 4-of-16 shooting (including 0 of 6 from beyond the three-point arc); two assists; a second-half benching for rash shot-taking; and bruised feelings that flared up soon after the game on Stoglin’s Twitter account.
“Loved sittin that bench today. . . . wow,” read the tweet, which was deleted soon after it was posted.
But hours later, Stoglin seemed remorseful about his earlier missive, saying, “Never tweet after a loss. not a bad dude just frustrated. Love terpnation! My fault.”
Said Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon after the game: “His shot selection wasn’t great. It was hurting us.”
With Stoglin relegated to the bench for a seven-minute stretch, Maryland cut what had been a 13-point deficit to four, 53-49, with 8 minutes 46 seconds to play.
But Duke (21-4, 8-2) capitalized on a rash of Maryland turnovers and rebuilt its double-digit margin on multiple trips to the free throw line, then slowed the pace to the crawl. And for a second consecutive game, Duke closed on a 13-2 run, with Seth Curry scoring a game-high 19 points and Mason Plumlee adding 16.
There was plenty for Turgeon to lament afterward, but getting outrebounded 48-33 clearly upset him most. All season, he has preached the importance of rebounding, which he views as the result of “want-to” more than skill. And his team continues to come up short on what is, for Turgeon, a point of pride.
“We were right there at 53-49, and just didn’t finish the game.” Turgeon said. “I hate how we do this: The score doesn’t really indicate how close the game was.”
Maryland’s 55 points were the fewest the team has scored since managing just 42 in an early-season loss to Alabama, before Howard (broken foot) and 7-foot-1 center Alex Len were able to play.
Len entered Saturday’s game about three minutes in and drew two fouls within a minute, ceding his spot to Berend Weijs.
Maryland’s defense was impressive early, allowing Duke only one field goal in the first 6:52. Duke’s guards couldn’t make their shots, and its big men were shaky from the free throw line. Stoglin, meanwhile, threw himself all over the court as both ballhandler and chief shooting option despite frequent Duke double-teams. He had 11 points in the first half, but the Blue Devils took a 32-29 lead into the break.
Maryland shot poorly in the first half (37 percent), missing all six attempts from three-point range, but held Duke to an even lower shooting percentage (32.4 percent).
Turgeon opened the second half with his two big men, Len and Weijs, to muzzle Mason Plumlee, whose 10 points paced Duke’s scoring to that point. But Duke ripped off six unanswered points, so Turgeon changed course and went small.
Duke’s lead hit double figures, 46-36, on a three-pointer by Andre Dawkins with 14:10 remaining. And after the 9-0 Maryland run that cut the Blue Devils’ lead to four, Duke was able to pull away for its fifth straight win in the series.