With his Terrapins turning in a lackluster first-half performance, Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon pushed every emotional button he could think of to spur a comeback against Virginia in Sunday’s regular season finale at Comcast Center.
He replaced two starters with walk-ons to open the second half. And he actively courted a technical foul, figuring that the controversy would incite the crowd and, in turn, his players.
It was something of a miracle that Maryland managed to force overtime, having scored just 22 points in a poor-shooting first half and fallen behind by 12 with eight minutes remaining.
Sophomore Terrell Stoglin (25 points) had an opportunity to win the game in regulation, the score knotted at 61, with 7-foot-1 center Alex Len setting a well executed screen on his behalf. But Stoglin, who was supposed to catch the ball in full stride, was jostled back on his heels instead. And his shot, with four seconds remaining, clanged off the rim.
The defeat brought Maryland’s regular season to an end with three consecutive defeats. It was also a season in which the Terps were swept by Duke, North Carolina and Virginia.
“There’s something about that loss that really hurts,” said senior guard Sean Mosley, who delivered a double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds) in the final home game of his career. “But at the end of the day, we fought hard. And that’s all we can ask for.”
Maryland (16-14, 6-10) must now regroup for the ACC tournament in Atlanta. As the eighth seed, Maryland will open Thursday at noon against No. 9 seed Wake Forest.
Should Maryland advance to Friday’s ACC quarterfinals, the Terps will face top-seeded North Carolina, which clinched the regular-season title with Saturday’s 88-70 victory at Duke.
A crowd of 16,497 showed up for Sunday’s finale, but the Terps gave them little to cheer for in the first half, playing from behind all but 19 seconds of the period.
The Terps missed layups and lofted jump shots that failed to reach the rim. Even free throws were a struggle, with the Terps 0 for 6 from the stripe in the first half.
It was yet another game in which the Terps’ offensive fortunes depended almost entirely on Stoglin.
And it was Maryland’s misfortune that Stoglin’s shot was off (8 for 24 from the field) until the waning minutes.
That hardly dissuaded him.
With the Terps trailing by 11, Stoglin hit a jumper with 27 seconds remaining that sent Virginia to the break with a 31-22 lead. Maryland shot just 33.3 percent in the period, with Stoglin 3-of-13 from the field.
Turgeon used halftime to blister his players for their lack of effort, game-smarts and unity.
“I had just had it,” Turgeon said, alluding to sub-par effort and poor execution, when asked about the switch. “I had just had it.”
Len, held scoreless in the first half, came out strong, stringing together a layup, block and dunk to pull Maryland within six, 32-26.
Turgeon spun on his heels, exhorting the crowd to cheer on the rally.
And he erupted in a rage when Auslander was called for a foul. Fearing the coach’s fourth technical of the season, Dustin Clark, director of basketball operation, restrained him. The penalty was averted, and the crowd was fully engaged: All told, a positive turn of events.
But the technical that had been brewing was slapped on Turgeon moments later, when he howled over Len’s third foul.
“Unfortunately I felt like I had to act like a madman to get us to go,” Turgeon said of his outburst. “Begging in timeouts wasn’t enough.”