There were layups. There were put-backs. There were short jump shots. And none of them, it seemed, would go in for 12th-ranked Maryland yesterday. Despite playing with increased effort and intensity, the Terrapins lost for the sixth consecutive time to No. 8 Duke, 80-70, in an Atlantic Coast Conference game before 14,500 at Cole Field House.
Maryland was 29 of 85 from the field (34.1 percent) and made just 8 of 17 free throw attempts. Center Lonny Baxter made only 7 of 23 shots and missed all four of his free throw attempts.
"We didn't put the basketball in the basket, to be concise, when we had opportunities to score," Coach Gary Williams said after his team endured its worst shooting performance since Dec. 9, 1995, when the Terrapins shot 24.7 percent in a 73-63 loss to UCLA.
Yesterday's loss ended Maryland's 14-game home winning streak and gave the Terrapins (11-4, 0-2) their first losing streak of the season following a loss at North Carolina State on Thursday.
Meantime, Duke (11-2, 2-0) has won 11 consecutive games and 24 consecutive ACC regular season games. This game was closer than Maryland's previous five losses to the Blue Devils, in which the average margin was 21.2 points.
"I'm sure all of us are sick and tired of" the losing streak against Duke, guard Juan Dixon said. "They come in here and they constantly get win after win after win."
Recently, Duke simply had overwhelmed Maryland. But yesterday the Terrapins hung around, largely because of an inspired defensive effort that forced 21 turnovers. Playing mostly a 3-2 zone defense, Maryland held Duke to 43.8 percent shooting. However, the Terrapins were woeful offensively. They had 25 offensive rebounds but struggled to convert them into points.
"The big thing is, we have to keep our confidence," Williams said. "That's the big thing after games like this. We didn't play that poorly. Our shooting was poor. You get 85 shots--that's ridiculous. That's a lot of shots."
After Maryland went ahead 4-0, Duke scored 14 consecutive points. During the three-minute stretch, the Terrapins missed eight shots, including two tip-ins and two layups; Baxter also missed a pair of free throws. Despite making several brief runs, Maryland never got closer than three points the rest of the game.
"Layups missed. Five-foot jump shots missed. You think about the shots that we missed early," said Williams, hinting that there will be plenty of shooting drills before Maryland plays its next game, Saturday at Georgia Tech. "If you make those shots, a lot of times it gives you confidence for the rest of the day. We never had that confidence going, especially after the N.C. State game. We needed a boost and I thought we had it, but the shots we got, we couldn't make the shots."
Said forward Terence Morris, who was 6 of 15 and had 18 points: "We got the ball where we wanted today. We just didn't knock down open shots. Shots we normally make weren't falling. . . . They went in and then out. They rolled around the rim and out. They just didn't fall."
In addition to the struggles of Baxter and Morris, Dixon was 6 of 18 and had 13 points and forward Danny Miller was 2 of 8 and scored six. Although Duke made things difficult inside with a season-high 12 blocks, including seven by forward Shane Battier, the Terrapins said their offensive woes were their own doing.
"All of us had easy shots," Dixon said. "We just didn't finish."
Perhaps the lone bright spot offensively for Maryland was the play of freshman point guard Steve Blake. Playing 38 minutes, Blake had 12 points, was 5 of 13 shooting, had eight assists to three turnovers and added six steals and six rebounds.
"I feel like I did well, but it doesn't matter because we lost the game," Blake said.
The Terrapins' last chance came midway through the second half, when they closed to 51-47 on a breakaway dunk by Calvin McCall and a jumper in the lane by Dixon. But the Terrapins managed just one point during nearly four minutes and Duke broke open the game.
Duke forward Chris Carrawell, who had a game-high 20 points, made an open three-pointer from the right side to make it 54-47. Dixon made 1 of 2 free throws, but on Maryland's next six possessions, the Terrapins committed three turnovers and Baxter twice missed the front end of a one-and-one. After Carrawell made another three-pointer, Battier converted a three-point play to give the Blue Devils a 64-48 lead with 7 minutes 33 seconds left and the game essentially was over.
Terrapins Notes: With a dunk midway through the first half, Morris became the 35th Maryland player to score 1,000 points in his career. He now has 1,013 points. . . . Baxter had 16 rebounds--10 offensive--and four blocks. Morris had 13 rebounds. . . . Melvin Scott, a guard at Southern High School in Baltimore who is considered one of the region's top juniors, attended the game and was in Maryland's locker room afterward. . . . It was Maryland's worst loss of the season. Its previous three losses were by a total of 10 points.