By Liz Clarke
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 3, 2011; 12:45 AM
CORAL GABLES, FLA. - Until now, Maryland's disappointing basketball season could be attributed to an exodus of talent and experience.
After Wednesday's lackluster 80-66 loss at Miami, the question regarding what ails the Terrapins centered on heart.
Maryland entered the final week of the regular season with only the faintest hope of an at-large NCAA tournament bid. But instead of fighting for consideration, the Terps played as if nothing was at stake, turning in a somnambulant first-half performance against the Hurricanes and never recovering despite a spasm of effort in the second half.
It's one thing to fall behind to surging North Carolina by 12 at halftime before a capacity crowd at the Smith Center, as Maryland did last Sunday.
It's quite another to fall behind by 13 to struggling Miami, which was ninth in the ACC standings entering Wednesday's game, before 4,866 spectators at BankUnited Center.
But Maryland did just that, allowing the Hurricanes to manhandle them in the paint (where Miami scored 28 points to Maryland's 14) and outgun them from the perimeter (hitting 12 three-pointers to the Terps' nine).
According to players, Coach Gary Williams lit into the squad during the halftime break for its lack of effort and intensity, which allowed Miami to take a 40-27 lead on 52 percent shooting from the field.
"He was definitely angry," said senior guard Adrian Bowie (15 points), who joined freshman Terrell Stoglin (20 points) and sophomore center Jordan Williams as the only Terps to score in double figures. The coach said "we shouldn't be playing like this. We didn't play Maryland basketball."
That said, Gary Williams credited Miami afterward with a well-deserved victory, dismissing suggestions that the Terps were somehow too depleted to mount a worthy fight.
"They worked hard; they earned the game," Coach Williams said of Miami (18-12, 6-9). "There was nothing out there that was a fluke. They played better than we did in every area."
The Hurricanes shot 54.9 percent from the field, had 20 assists on 28 baskets and placed five players in double figures. Reserve Rion Brown led the team with 19 points - 18 of them coming on his six three-pointers. And Reggie Johnson, Miami's 303-pound center, pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds while making life generally miserable for Jordan Williams, who is the same height (6 feet 10) but 43 pounds lighter.
Williams managed a 23rd double-double (11 points, 12 rebounds) but connected on just 3 of 17 shots from the field.
"That's quite a few shots," Gary Williams noted. "You gotta put the ball in the basket."
Shooting was a team-wide struggle for Maryland, which made just 33.9 percent of its attempts.
His team down 32-23, Gary Williams tapped freshman forward Mychal Parker, who last saw playing time Feb. 9 against Longwood, searching for a spark.
Miami maintained its upper hand with ease, taking a 40-27 lead into the break.
A three-pointer by Stoglin pared what had ballooned to a 17-point lead to seven. Off a Miami turnover, Sean Mosley hit a jumper to pull the Terps within five, 50-45, with just over 14 minutes to play.
But with Maryland either unwilling or unable to defend Miami from three-point range, the Hurricanes unleashed a barrage from beyond the arc to roar back to a double-digit advantage, 69-56 with less than six minutes remaining,
"You can't really blame it on anything other than ourselves," said Stoglin, who fouled out with 1:31 to go. "We just gotta come out and want the game. If we don't want the game, we're gonna lose."