JACKSONVILLE, FLA., DEC. 9 -- The sun finally came out today after two days of rain, but the Maryland basketball team already had left the area following another missed opportunity.
Maryland (2-3) squandered yet another chance at victory Saturday night, falling to Jacksonville, 71-70.
The Terrapins fell when Dolphins center Tim Burroughs made a layup with nine seconds left following an inbounds pass from Danny Tirado. The unexpected finish put the exclamation point on a series of Terrapins mishaps, which cost them a nine-point lead in the final 12 minutes. They also have lost second-half leads against Boston College and West Virginia.
"We have lapses -- mental, not physical ones -- when we get the lead," said Coach Gary Williams. "For us to win we have to do things right for 40 minutes, but our players don't seem to accept that."
The Terrapins showed improvement over their previous two games. They shot 35 percent with 18 turnovers in a 90-85 loss to West Virginia and hit 43 percent with 19 turnovers in a 100-85 loss to Boston College.
Saturday night, Maryland made 52 percent with a season-low 10 turnovers. But rebounding, which had been one of the team's strengths, suffered. Burroughs didn't start the game because he was late for a pregame film session, but he still had 18 rebounds to lead Jacksonville to a 44-24 advantage.
In the second half, the Dolphins made 57 percent of their shots and had seven offensive rebounds. Even so, Maryland looked ready to romp after going on a 9-2 spurt for a 56-47 lead with slightly more than 12 minutes to play.
"But once we get the lead we get careless," Williams said. "We're not killers; we go up nine and instead of putting them away by 20 we start going off on our own. That's got to stop."
With a crowd of slightly more than 5,000, it was easy to hear much of what was being said on the floor. During a number of occasions, Maryland guard Kevin McLinton yelled at his teammates to stick to the game plan and not try to take too much upon themselves.
"For some reason we're having a hard time running our offense and executing," he said afterward. "When that happens we just start running around and playing schoolyard ball, and that's not what we're supposed to be doing."
Recently, Williams has decried Maryland's shot selection. That seemed to improve somewhat Saturday but there were times when players hoisted attempts with 35 seconds or more left on the shot clock, or missed wide-open shots.
"I guess everyone is just trying to win the game," said point guard Walt Williams.
In many ways, this season has resembled the early portion of the 1989-90 campaign -- Williams's first as Maryland's coach -- when it took an upset loss to Coppin State to wake up the Terps. Gary Williams argued otherwise, saying there would be no single turning point this season.
"There are no wake-up losses," he said. "We didn't wake up last year because we lost a game. We woke up because we started playing better. We're going to try and make that happen this year; we're going to work harder to do it -- that's all you can do."