Maryland vs. Florida State: Late three-pointer sinks Terps, 73-71

January 30, 2013

The sting of the Maryland basketball team’s latest loss may last for some time, the wounds salted by one of college basketball’s best closers at the Tucker Center on Wednesday night. These Terrapins had endured slugfests before, even riding the emotional high of a last-second win over North Carolina State, but until now hadn’t been struck by the cold and brutal blow of a last-second shot.

After burning Clemson with a banked three-pointer on a busted play six days ago, Florida State guard Michael Snaer sprung free in the left corner when Ian Miller drove baseline and kicked, drawing the attention of all five Maryland defenders. As the clock approached zero, the guard took his time, settled his feet and fired. With 1.1 seconds left, Snaer swished it. Just like he did against the Tigers. Just like he did last season against Duke and Virginia Tech.

“Chaos led to it,” Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon said. “We knew it was a double screen for somebody. Either Snaer or Miller. Just didn’t guard it.”

Dez Wells’s deep desperation heave sailed wide left, sending the Terps (15-6, 3-5 ACC) to a 73-71 loss, their fifth in the past seven games. For some time, it appeared that Wells would single-handedly will Maryland toward its first conference road win this season. Twice on broken set plays, Wells overtook matters alone, keeping Florida State at bay with a three-pointer and baseline floater late in the second half.

It was as well as Maryland, at times plagued by immaturity and poor execution, had prepared and operated throughout its conference slate, Turgeon said afterward, while his players wiped away tears in the locker room, one miss away from a feel-good win.

“No, I don’t take anything good from losing,” said Wells, who finished with 19 points and shot 8 for 12 from the field. “That’s all I have to say about it. Everyone’s pretty down. When you lose like that, everyone takes it really, really hard. Everyone wants to win so bad. We were just so ready to play, so pumped and amped to get these guys for beating us on our home court. He just made a really good shot at the end. That’s all I can say.”

After falling by three points to Florida State (12-8, 4-3) at home earlier this month, Turgeon called that defeat the toughest Maryland suffered this season, given the double-digit lead blown in the second half. This pain ought to top that.

Up 71-68, Nick Faust sprung free in the open court, headed for a breakway layup, only to be fouled. He bricked the first end of his one-and-one. After Snaer hit a runner in the lane, Turgeon called a timeout and drew up a perfect set. Logan Aronhalt, who finished with 11 points, was the decoy, screed and rescreened by Len, until the 7-foot-1 center slipped to the rim for an alley-oop. Except Len’s dunk crashed off the back iron, leading to a jump ball in Florida State’s favor. Seminoles Coach Leonard Hamilton called a timeout, and Snaer again played hero.

“They’re down, but we tell them they have to move forward. We have to get prepared for the next play, next game,” Padgett said. “I think this type of game motivates us, shows us we can win big games. One possession, one play away from winning the game. I think this is a positive step.”

Returning home after a 27-point bulldozing at Miami, exactly the same situation Duke found itself in last weekend before routing the Terps by 20 points, Florida State was missing 6-8 forward Terrence Shannon, sidelined indefinitely with a neck injury. Snaer, Florida State’s leading scorer, missed a six-minute stretch in the first half after appearing to turn his ankle before the under-16 media timeout, at one point disappearing into the locker room, but returned and still finished with a game-high 19 points, including an acrobatic floater that chopped Maryland’s lead to 71-70 with less than a minute remaining.

The opportunity for quality, resume-building wins thins from here on out. Save for home games against Duke and North Carolina, and a road trip to Virginia, the Terps have waved goodbye to their toughest stretch with another soul-crushing loss. Florida State shot 14 for 16 from the free throw line in the second half, keeping things close down the stretch and setting up Snaer’s second straight game-winner.

“It’s hard right now,” Turgeon said. “I’m rambling, but we made huge strides as a basketball team tonight. Really first time all year I really felt like I was coaching. We actually ran the plays we called, followed the defensive game plan.”

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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