Terps Survive Virginia Tech Rally
On Saturday in College Park the Terps faced a Virginia Tech team that wouldn’t quit. Even down as many as 15 in the second half the Hokies never gave up, and made things quite interesting in the waning moments. Maryland overcame poor free throw shooting and turnovers to hold on for a 73-69 victory over the Hokies.
The Terps were led by guards Terrell Stoglin (28 points on 9-of-21 shooting) and Sean Mosley (15 points, 3 steals and a crucial late game block). The two took over after a flagrant foul was called against Mosley. Mosley got things started after he blocked a breakaway dunk, something he’s done time and again this season. Mosley was then called for the flagrant, which in turn got coach Mark Turgeon heated at the refs. The crowd fed off of that and Stoglin hit a three, push the lead back to eight points (63-55).
Stoglin had some rough stretches through the game, but ultimately when the game looked like it could slip away, he hit a clutch three to keep the Hokies at bay. Sean Mosley got, by all accounts, a make up call with 1:09 remaining as he caught an in-bounds pass with time running out on the shot clock. Mosley heaved the ball up, and got the ref to blow his whistle for a foul, he sank all three free throws. Mosley sank two free throws in the final seconds to make it a six-point game.
Asked about the free throws down the stretch, Stoglin said “When Sean [Mosley] stepped to the line, I just said ‘Count ’em’, I knew he’d make them.” Stoglin also pointed out that Mosley is their leader and he wouldn’t let them down. He didn’t.
“I have been in a lot of pressure situations where I have had to step up to the line and make free throws. I’m glad that he fouled me” said Mosley.
Mosley hasn’t always been consistent this season, he’s had some off games, but when he’s performing on the defensive end his offense is usually better. Tonight may have been the reverse, as he hit two early three’s in the first half, and his defense picked up in the second half, but still made shots when he had to.
Things weren’t all great for the Terps, while they held Virginia Tech to just 19 points in the first half, they did allow 50 in the second half. There were again stretches in the second half where the Terps were sloppy and had back-to-back offensive possessions that ended in Nick Faust missing the front end of a one-and-one from the free throw line.
Free throws continue to be the key contributor to teams being able to get back in games against the Terps. Maryland shot 22-of-32 (68.8%) from the free throw line tonight. Terrell Stoglin continued to struggle at the free throw line, he’s just 8 of 18 in the last two games. Shot selection was another issue in the second half.
“He [Stoglin] has gotten better. He was a little selfish in the first half and took him out for his shot selection.” Said Turgeon after the game.
At the end of the day though, the Terps avenged a team who handed them the worst loss in Comcast Center history last year. Turgeon said “Thought our execution was better than it’s been, quite frankly, up to the 38-minute mark we were as good as we’ve been.”
Maryland struggled through a three-game losing streak to some good teams, but they were in those games, especially Temple and Duke, and could have won. Turgeon thinks the team responded well this week despite the loss to Duke “We’re really coming together, shows by the way we’ve played.”
One player who needs to step up down the stretch is Alex Len. He has seen his playing time drop after the ankle injury against Temple. Ashton Pankey stepped up tonight, scoring 8 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Turgeon doesn’t seem too worried about Len though, saying he still expects him to be a star by the end of the season.
Maryland heads to the 11-7 (2-3 in ACC) Miami Hurricanes on Wednesday, before hosting #8 UNC next Saturday. Maryland isn’t in a position to drop any games, as every one will be crucial to make it to the post-season.
Follow Brendan Darr on twitter: @BrendanDarr1067