Maryland guard Sean Mosley made the second of two free throws with 7 minutes 46 seconds left in the first half on Wednesday against Duke, giving the Terrapins a 26-25 lead. After Mosley’s successful second attempt, Maryland had made 8 of 10 shots from the foul line, a fine showing by a team that entered the game shooting just 65.2 percent from the line.
But from that point forward, Maryland’s fortunes went south both at the free throw line and on the scoreboard. Over the final 27-plus minutes of the game, the Terrapins made only three of their final 11 free throw attempts and saw their chances of victory evaporate in what became a 74-61 loss to the eighth-ranked Blue Devils.
“Free throw shooting was pretty much the whole game when it comes right down to it,” Terrapins Coach Mark Turgeon said afterward.
After the 8-of-10 start, Maryland finished the game having made only 52 percent of its free throws, dragging down its season average to just 64.6 percent, which ranks 11th in the ACC and 280th nationally out of 344 Division I teams.
Turgeon added that poor free throw shooting only compounds the problem when the team isn’t shooting well from the field, either.
“There are still four-minute stretches were we aren’t making a field goal, and that is not going to beat good teams,” he said. “That happens, when we’re good offensively, we're good. But we have stretches where we don't make free throws, too. It wears you out and you can't keep up.”
Maryland’s lack of success at the free throw line is a bit of a head-scratcher considering how good the Terrapins are at getting there. Maryland has attempted 509 free throws this season, 15th most in the country, and even with its troubles making foul shots, 25.3 percent of its points have come from the line, which ranks ninth nationally.
It wasn’t always like this. In 2008-09, the Terrapins shot 75.8 percent from the line, which ranked first in the ACC and 10th nationally. You have to go back to the 2003-04 season to find a Maryland team that struggled as much from the line as this season’s squad has. That season, in which the Terrapins won their only ACC tournament title, Maryland was one of the worst foul-shooting teams in the country at 63.1 percent.
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