MAUI - If you don't land the knockout punch when you get the the opportunity and let the other guy off the ropes, you shouldn't be surprised if you end up Fearing the Turtle at the end.
That's what happened in the fifth place game of the Maui Invitational on Wednesday morning when the University of Arkansas failed to take advantage of the chance to take a 10 or 11-point lead over Maryland in the opening half.
Instead the No. 23 Terrapins fought off that deficit and then broke away from a three-point lead late to down the Razorbacks 75-62 in the day's first game at the Lahaina Civic Center.
"We really had our chance early on to get them down and keep them down, but we have too many turnovers, took some bad shots and let them back in it," Arkansas junior guard Ronnie Brewer said. "Then we kind of both went at each other pretty hard for most of the second half until they did the things down the end to win."
Brewer had a game-high 19 points as Arkansas (2-2), which had downed Kansas 65-64 a day earlier and lost to No. 3 UConn 75-66, ended the event with a 1-2 mark with the loss in a game that started at 9 a.m. in Maui.
"We came over here wanting to play in the championship game, but we felt like we did some good things while, but just didn't put a full 40 minutes together either on offense or defense that we need," Brewer said. "But we know we can play with anybody in the country now and we are only going to get better."
Maryland (3-1) had lost to tournament finalist Gonzaga 88-76 in the opening round despite leading at half and whipped Chaminade 98-69 on Tuesday.
"We had to play great basketball to win today and we did," Terps head coach Gary Williams said.
Maryland led just 53-50 when Arkansas junior center Darian Townes hit a bucket inside with 6:37 remaining in the game.
But the Terps went on a 13-3 run from that point on to take a 66-53 lead on Travis Garrison's layup at the 2:27 mark.
That started Maryland's "Fear The Turtle" chant, which its fans do late in game when they believe they have the game won.
Ekene Ibekwe had 16 points to lead Maryland while senior guard Chris McCray added 15 with inside guys James Gist and Garrison adding 11 and 10 points respectively in a game where the Terps outscored the Razorbacks 46-28 in the paint.
"They are a really very good team," Ibekwe said. "They really play hard, are very streong inside, very athletic and made us play some great basketball to win this one. They are going to have a great season and I'm sure we will see them in the NCAA."
Maryland shot 61.5 percent in the second half - 47.3 percent for the game - and knocked down 20-of-25 free throws.
Arkansas shot 42 percent from the field, 60 percent from the line and both teams committed 21 turnovers while the Terps won the rebounding battle 35-27.
"We jujst didn't get enough positive things done at the times we needed to," Brewer said.
Townes had 13 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks in the loss but he and fellow big man Steven Hill (4 points, 2 rebounds and 1 block) had their time limited by foul trouble.
Arkansas had a 20-12 lead and the ball with both in the game and playing well before they began to march to the bench behind each other when picking up fouls.
While freshman Cyrus McGowan battled, Ibekwe, Gist and Garrison all took advantage of the missing duo to dominate inside.
"We just tried to take it at them all day and just tried to get some calls," Ibekwe said. "Luckily we had some success and got them out the game and got back into the ballgame."
Maryland scored 18 of the game's next 24 points with only a Brewer 3-pointer getting the Razorbacks within 30-27 at halftime.
In the second half, Maryland's big guys continue to do good work and led them to the win along with McCray, taking up the slack for foul-prone D.J. Strawberry - the son of former Major League basketball player Darryl Strawberry.
"They really played well and I didn't play as good a defense as I could have, especially moving my feet as you could see," Hill said.
Brewer said his team would have much rather went 3-0 in the event, but thinks that playing the gauntlet of UConn, Kansas and Maryland - all three expected NCAA teams - has improved Arkansas greatly.
"Obviously we have a lot of things to clean up, we can play better defense, we can run our offense smoother and we can play smarter," Brewer said. "But we also saw a lot of good things from ourselves and we are nowhere near as good as we are going to be.
"We didn't have anything like this to get us ready in the preseason last year, but this was a great tournament with great competition and if we play a little smarter we probably win all three of these games," Brewer said. "We're getting better and we'll get even better before we hit conference play."
Ronnie Brewer and Mike Jones prepare to battle for a loose basketball.
Cyrus McGowan shoots againt Maryland.
AP Photos/Michael Conroy
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