James Padgett scored 16 points and grabbed 6 rebounds for the Terrapins in a 70-75 win over Miami at the Comcast Center in College Park, MD on Tuesday, February 21, 2012. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box file photo
COLLEGE PARK, MD - As the final seconds ticked off the clock, the entire Maryland basketball team joyfully skipped, hopped and ran off the court and into the tunnel towards their locker room, smiles on their faces from ear to ear. Moments later, head Coach Mark Turgeon ran by to catch up, also smiling as if his basketball team, who just beat Miami in what he called the best win of the season, had won the ACC title. While Tuesday night’s game didn’t appear to carry that level of importance to the casual observer, it did signify what could be a turning point for a Maryland team that has struggled to find its identity as it learns what it needs to do in order to win on a consistent basis.
Maryland’s 75-70 win over Miami, just a few days removed from one of their worst loses of the season on Saturday at Virginia, improved Maryland’s record to 16-11 overall and 6-7 in the ACC.
“Just a great win for us. I know the Notre Dame game probably looks like it’s better, but under that circumstance and under this circumstance, this is just a great win for our team” Mark Turgeon said.
Maryland opened up the game on a 13-3 run, quickly building a ten point lead. Junior forward James Padgett (16 pts., 6 rebs.) and senior guard Sean Mosley (15 pts., 6 asst., 5 rebs.) led the way for the Terps, scoring 10 of those 13 points. Maryland’s lead wouldn’t last, as Miami fought back to cut the lead to one midway through the 1st half. The Hurricanes switched to a 2-3 zone that seemed to stifle Maryland’s offense, forcing them to take ill-advised shots quickly in their possessions.
“You know, we weren’t perfect” Turgeon said. “We shot it quick in the first half, we made a lot of blunders, but we beat a really good team tonight. “
Later in the half, Miami went on a 14-1 run that resulted in an eight point lead for the Hurricanes. During that time, Maryland went over five minutes without a field goal, going 0-6 from the field and turning the ball over twice. The Terps eventually solved the Hurricane zone and cut Miami’s lead down to one. But junior guard Trey McKinney Jones (13 pts., 2 rebs.) made a three pointer that gave the Hurricanes a 35-31 advantage heading into halftime.
Rebounding and boxing out continued to be a problem from Maryland, especially in the early going. Miami was able to outrebound the Terps by seven in the first half, collecting eight second chance points to Maryland’s zero. But the players knew that they needed to play better if they were going to win.
“Coach told us in the locker room at halftime that in order to win a game, you have to win the rebounding [battle]” James Padgett said.“ We wanted to go out and win the game, so we had to do what it took; offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, guys battling, guys boxing out. That was the key to the game. That’s what won us the game.”
The Terps certainly took Turgeon’s rebounding message to heart in the second half, out rebounding the Hurricanes by 12, 22 to 10.
Three and a half minutes into the second half, Maryland erased their halftime deficit of four and led by one, 42-41 after a Nick Faust layup. The freshman from Baltimore finished with eight points, eight rebounds, and four assists. “This is what I came here for, the opportunity to play and I’m getting it” Faust said.
The play of Faust hasn’t gone unnoticed by Mark Turgeon, who has often times put Faust in the point guard role when sophomore guard Pe’Shon Howard has missed time due to injuries.
“Nick was great. Nick was great defensively. For him to run the point the way he’s running it and he didn’t go crazy and jump over guys and run over guys tonight, he pulled up, made good plays one after another, got us into our stuff. It’s amazing. It really is amazing what the kid’s doing. Playing with confidence. I just think he can guard anybody, anybody, any guard out there, Nick can guard them. He loves playing. [The] Kid’s a winner.”
While winning is what Faust and Turgeon would ultimately end up doing once the game was over, Maryland had to fight hard to beat Miami. After Maryland briefly took the lead from the Hurricanes, Miami was able to steal it right back, eventually pushing their lead as high as seven.
With just over a minute and a half remaining in the game, the Terps found themselves down five. Sean Mosley got the ball and spotted an opportunity to take the shot, which he took and swishing through the net, cutting the Miami lead down to two.
“I just got the switch and I had confidence in my shot” Mosley said. “Once I saw the room to shoot the ball, I had confidence in myself.”
After a missed free- throw by Miami’s DeQuan Jones, Nick Faust brought the ball up court. Faust spotted an opening in the Hurricane’s defense, so he drove to the basket and found Padgett waiting for him. Faust dished off to Padgett, who put the ball in the basket and got fouled, resulting in a thunderous roar from the crowd at the Comcast Center. Moment later, Padgett’s free-throw swished through the net, giving Maryland the lead with just under a minute to go and one they wouldn’t relinquish.
“It hurts. We were right there” said Miami head coach Jim Larranaga. “We don’t know what’s going on in the other games tonight so we have our work cut out for us these next three games.”
The Terps also made their free throws, especially down the stretch. Maryland went 19/22 from the charity stripe Tuesday evening.
Game notes – Maryland retired the jersey of former Maryland great Johnny Rhodes before the game. Rhodes was joined by many, including former Maryland coach Gary Williams and former Maryland assistant and now head coach of Loyola (MD) , Jimmy Patsos.