Maryland Fails to Pull Off Second Straight Upset
Saturday, November 29, 2008
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Nov. 28 -- With just less than 12 minutes remaining in Maryland's game against Gonzaga on Friday, Bulldogs guard Steven Gray snagged an offensive rebound off an errant Austin Daye three-point attempt and was fouled on the putback. The ball made two circles around the rim before dropping through the net and sealing a fate the Terrapins were supposed to suffer the night before.
Maryland, defiant in victory Thursday night against a top 10 opponent, could not muster the stamina to perform the feat two games in a row, much less the physicality to match a No. 9 Gonzaga squad built on size and guile. As a result, the Terrapins (4-1) suffered their first loss of the season, an 81-59 defeat that ensured they would face Georgetown on Sunday in the consolation game of the Old Spice Classic.
"I thought in the second half our defense may have actually been a little better early on, but they kept getting second shots and putting them back in," Maryland Coach Gary Williams said. "That was the big key in the second half. When we did stop them, it seemed like they scored on the second or the third shot."
The Bulldogs, whose starting lineup consisted of three players 6 feet 8 or taller, manhandled Maryland on the boards and claimed a 41-30 edge. The Terrapins used their quickness and energy to negate Gonzaga's size advantage throughout most of the first half but could not maintain the pace that enabled them to upset No. 5 Michigan State.
A decrease in Maryland's tempo fell in line with a drop-off in shooting percentage. The Terrapins shot 37.3 percent Friday night and made 1 of 13 three-point attempts. Williams attributed his team's shooting performance in part to Gonzaga's size in the post, but he also acknowledged that wasn't the whole problem. "We had some open shots that we didn't make," he said.
The list of Terrapins who struggled to find the back of the net was lengthy. Junior guard Greivis Vasquez was the only Maryland player to score more than eight points. He finished with 16 and also became the 47th player in school history to record 1,000 career points. Maryland's four other starters shot 31.3 percent and combined to tally 22 points.
"I think we got away from our offense for the most part," senior forward Dave Neal said. "I don't think we executed as well as we did against Michigan State and then defensively we didn't rebound as well as we should have. Rebounding kind of killed us. We didn't shoot the ball real well. It was just a tough, tough game."
The main source of Maryland's struggles stood 6-11 and weighed 260 pounds. For 31 minutes, Gonzaga forward Josh Heytvelt bullied his way around the post and on defense made sure no interior shot went uncontested. He finished with 22 points and nine rebounds.
"I just felt that we were doing a great job of doing everything, so it was kind of wearing on their whole team," Heytvelt said. "We were doing everything to get at their whole entire team, and I thought that just wore them down throughout the game."
Maryland trailed by nine at halftime, and at that point, Williams figured his team still had a shot so long as it could compile a run on offense, just as it did on Thursday. After Michigan State gained momentum at the beginning of the second half on Thursday night, the Terrapins put together a 27-6 run that lasted nearly 12 minutes.
At the start of the second half Friday night, the performance Maryland displayed against the Spartans seemed further in the past than just a single day. Against the Bulldogs, "we couldn't get the run," Williams said.
On Sunday, the Terrapins will square off against Georgetown in a regular season matchup for the first time since Nov. 26, 1993. The Hoyas will offer Maryland its third opportunity in four days to face a top 25 opponent. But against No. 21 Georgetown, a team with capable post players of its own, the Terrapins will need a more determined and focused effort than it displayed against Gonzaga.
The Bulldogs "had some big people out there at every position, and they were quick enough given their size," Williams said. "Obviously, they hurt us on the glass. But when you play a team like that that's that good, you have to execute better than we did. Our offense and our defense just wasn't good enough tonight."