Coming off of a tough loss at Wisconsin, the Terps ran into a hot Minnesota team and lost 89-75 on Wednesday night.
Last time these teams faced off, Maryland was able to pull out a close win, but not without a fight. That win still stands as one of the Terps’ best wins on the season but the Gophers have not lost since then.
The teams traded punches in the first half with Maryland leading 35-34 at the break. Both teams’ shooting percentages were very close with Minnesota sitting at 45% and Maryland at 42%. The turnovers and fouls were also even. The only major stat advantage went to Maryland on the glass.
The biggest surprise of the first half had to be the play of Ivan Bender. His 12 points led the team at the break and served as a career high for the Sophomore big man. With Michal Chekovsky out for the remainder of the season, Bender has to step up and simply play better. Many Maryland fans have questioned Bender’s ability all season but he certainly looked like a different player in the first half of Wednesday’s game.
Minnesota quickly took the lead in the second half with pair of back-to-back three pointers but the score remained within one possession until the 11 minute mark. Everything was shaping up to look like a clone of when these teams met earlier this season, a close scoring slug fest down the stretch.
A few minutes later, the Gophers started to pull away and soon found themselves up 10 by the six-minute mark. During this span, Maryland was taking some unnecessary three pointers. The three-point shot was not the Terps’ strong spot all night, so there was no reason to keep shooting them while Minnesota pulled away.
For the second straight game, coach Mark Turgeon was assessed a technical foul during crunch time. With the Gophers up by eight and Maryland struggling to find the basket, Turgeon’s temper spilled over and Minnesota was given two free throws to regain a ten point lead. With under two minutes to play, Minnesota stretched their lead at the line and held on for the 89-75 win.
Minnesota is a tough team to beat but the Terps could not afford to give this game away. I could excuse Turgeon’s outburst on Sunday because of the intensity surrounding the game and the other factors that led to the loss. This time, there is no excuse. Turgeon cannot do that two games in a row with the game on the line and expect his players to overcome it. It’s embarrassing, plain and simple.
This loss guarantees that the Terps will be dropped from the Top 25 next Monday. They will host Iowa on Saturday but a win in that game will not negate the effects of tonight’s loss.