ATLANTA — Tied for seventh place in the ACC standings, the Maryland men’s basketball team knew that its dwindling postseason chances couldn’t survive another loss, especially to a Georgia Tech team that had lost 10 of its previous 11 games. Yet with so much to play for, the Terrapins came up with so little Saturday and fell, 63-61, to the last-place Yellow Jackets.
Maryland overcame a sluggish start to lead 37-31 at the half behind sharp perimeter shooting from senior Sean Mosley, and extended its lead to nine early in the second half.
But the Terrapins’ shooting went haywire, resulting in a 10-minute stretch with just one field goal. And their interior defense wilted, with big men Alex Len, Ashton Pankey, James Padgett and Berend Weijs manhandled by Georgia Tech’s post players, particularly 6-foot-8 forward Kammeon Holsey, who had a team-high 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Maryland had beaten Georgia Tech, 61-50, earlier in the season. With a sweep on Saturday, the Terrapins would have climbed back to .500 in conference play, won their second road game and strung together back-to-back victories for the first time in six weeks.
Had Saturday’s defeat been contested with valor, Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon could have drawn a positive from it. But as he recounted the botched layups, selfish moves and half-hearted defensive stands, he could only say how disappointed he was.
“I thought we were growing up, but today showed we haven’t grown up all the way,” Turgeon said. “We weren’t ready to play.”
And that realization seemed to sap the last ounce of belief out of their coach and Mosley, their relentlessly upbeat captain.
“It’s the same thing over and over: We win a game, lose a game. Win a game, lose a game,” said Mosley, who tied a career high with four first-half three-pointers but managed only two free throws in the second half. “In the second half, they wanted it more. . . . They out-toughed us today.”
Sophomore Terrell Stoglin managed a team-high 18 points but made only 5 of 17 field goal attempts. Stoglin hit the layup that put Maryland ahead, 56-55, with 2 minutes 3 seconds remaining. And after five futile attempts, he finally sank a three-pointer with three seconds remaining that again made it a one-point game.
But having played from behind so much (shooting just 23.3 percent and getting outscored 32-24 in the second half), the Terrapins couldn’t make the plays to get them over the hump.
Freshman Nick Faust’s three-pointer with 3:44 remaining in the first half gave Maryland its first lead, 30-29. And Mosley hit his fourth three-pointer to stretch the Terrapins’ lead to five points. Len hit the front end of a one-and-one, sending the Terrapins to the break with a 37-31 lead.
But Georgia Tech’s defense clamped down on Mosley when play resumed. And Maryland squandered one possession after another, with each turnover, muffed layup and miscommunication giving Georgia Tech new life as the half wore on.
Stoglin made three free throws to give the Terrapins a 40-31 lead less than a minute after halftime, but Maryland then couldn’t get anything to fall, with Stoglin’s jumper at the 17:19 mark its only field goal over the first 10 minutes of the second half. Rather than work together on offense, the Terrapins too often appeared to work at cross purposes.
With his team trailing 50-44 with 9:55 left, Turgeon called a timeout in hopes of halting a 19-4 Georgia Tech run. But in the end, Maryland’s numerous woes were too much to overcome.