SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Maryland’s first game against a ranked opponent was a painful lesson in how far it has to go this season, as No. 16 Alabama manhandled the Terrapins, 62-42, in Thursday’s opening round of the Puerto Rico Classic.
Against a physical, well-coached defense, Maryland didn’t place a single player in double figures in scoring. The Terps were paced by forward James Padgett’s nine points on a miserable night for the team’s starting guards. Terrell Stoglin, Sean Mosley and Nick Faust shot a combined 2 of 23 from the field.
It wasn’t for lack of trying. Stoglin tossed up nine shots and made none; Mosley drained 1 of 8 — a three-pointer at the end of first half.
It was the Terps’ lack of discipline and teamwork on offense that aggravated first-year Coach Mark Turgeon most, having extolled the virtues of making the extra pass to find the open man from Day One of practice.
“We’re way too selfish to be any good offensively,” said Turgeon, who worked as hard on the sideline as his players did on court, exhorting his players to move the ball, rebound and get back on defense. “Our guys think that they have to get it going [individually], instead of as a team get it going.”
But it was a losing proposition from the outset, given Alabama’s advantage in experience, depth and brawn. Even when Maryland defenders raced back to their proper spot on defense, Alabama (3-0), paced by Tony Mitchell’s 17 points, had little trouble shooting over them. And Maryland’s big men, who didn’t look so big next to Alabama’s, were pushed around too easily under the basket.
“They’re such a great defensive team,” said freshman forward Ashton Pankey, who pulled down 10 of Maryland’s 29 rebounds. “They had a lot of strong, physical players. I think I’m pretty physical myself. But I’ve finally seen some competition stronger than myself.”
“Thank God we play tomorrow!” Turgeon said, eager to erase the memory of a game in which so much went wrong.
Alabama (3-0) won 25 games last season and reached the finals of the National Invitation Tournament, falling to Wichita State, 66-57, in the title game. The Tide has yet to surrender more than 57 points, and Maryland didn’t come close to threatening that mark.
The Terps got off to a poor start, flat-footed on defense and off target on offense.
After his team allowed the game’s first five points, Turgeon called timeout and bellowed, “Let’s wake up!”
Maryland scored just one point in the first five minutes, a free throw by Padgett.
With 3 minutes 36 seconds remaining in the first half, the Terps trailed 31-15 on 3-of-21 shooting. All three field goals came from the team’s big men: center Berend Weijs hit twice; Padgett hit the other.
A Maryland guard didn’t hit from the field until Mosley’s three-pointer at the first-half buzzer, paring a 19-point deficit to 16, with the Terps trailing 36-20.
More than five minutes went by in the second half before Maryland made anything but a free throw. Mychal Parker heaved an off-balance prayer and converted the three-point play to make it 40-24.
Turgeon coached his heart out on bended knee, pleading, “Nick [Faust], help us rebound!”
Turgeon was helped by a vocal contingent of Maryland fans, who stood and cheered nearly every time the Terps held Alabama to a scoreless possession.
But with the game out of reach, Alabama up 53-32 and less than three minutes remaining, Turgeon pulled his starters and sent out five walk-ons to save the starters for Friday.
Notes: In the tournament’s early games, Temple (2-0) defeated Western Michigan, 69-55, placing five Owls in double figures. Purdue (3-0) got a game-high 24 points from Robbie Hummel to squeak past Iona, 91-90.