Rapid Reaction: Maryland 66, Villanova 74

Terps blow 12-point lead, let Nova go on 19-0 run.

WHAT IT MEANS: In search of a true signature victory to add to their N.C.A.A. Tournament resume, Maryland came as close as they have all season when they held a 12-point edge over Villanova on the road in the second half. But a 19-0 run by the Wildcats showed why they are considered an elite team and the Terps may be too young to call this “their year.”

Nova captured their 11th consecutive win to move to 16-1, while the Terps let another win over a Top 10 team slip through their fingers. Maryland finished their three-game road trip 1-2, with the only win over Atlantic Coast Conference bottom-feeder Wake Forest. The Terps possessed the lead in both games against Duke and Villanova and faltered down the stretch.

AVENGING LAST YEAR: In 2009 when No. 3 Villanova travelled down I-95 to The Verizon Center to take on the Terps at the BB&T Classic, it was a one-sided show, in favor of the road team. Nova’s big three, if you will – Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes – all scored in double-figures with Reynolds leading the way with 25.

Fisher and Stokes, now seniors, provided 20 and 18, respectively, with Stokes nailing five from beyond the arc, his forte this year as well. Head coach Jay Wright said he wanted to give his shooters freedom; well-played, sir.

Maryland’s Sean Mosley led his team with a career-best 26 points, while then-freshman center Jordan Williams had one of many breakout efforts in his first year, grabbing 12 rebounds to go along with his 19 points.

The 95-86 win for Villanova kept their undefeated streak alive, allowing them to move to 8-0.

THE WAYNS THREE: With just under 9:30 minutes remaining in the game, the Wildcats went on 19-0 run where they looked as invincible as the Terps looked dismal. The Maalik Wayns three-pointer at the eight–minute mark cut to deficit to five points.

While Villanova to grabbing rebounds and making shots, the Terps did their best their best to assist their opponent with questionable passes, poor ball-handling and ice-cold shooting. The run finally came to an end after Jordan Williams earned a trip to the free throw line, but it was too late. The damage had been done.

JORDAN’S STREAK: At halftime, Jordan Williams tallied 16 points and nine rebounds off 6-8 from the field. Not only did the big man dominate in the paint but opened his repertoire with a jaw-dropping jumper.

Williams earned his 15th double-double of the season, his 11th in the past 11 contests. His 25 points were two shy of his career-best 27, and his 14 rebounds were a game-high. Williams now stands just one shy of Len Elmore for the Maryland school record. Elmore collected his 12 consecutive double-doubles during the 1973-74 season.

BOWIE – A TALE OF HALVES: Despite starting at the two-guard yet again, Bowie took just one shot in the first half, a three-point attempt that did not fall. Bowie looks hesitant to shoot and is not calling for the ball, and I would not be shocked if he is a candidate to come off the bench if he cannot produce in this role.

The second half, however, was a different story. Bowie played the role often perfected by Cliff Tucker and exploded. His 10 points, mostly in transition

AN ARM IN THE WAY: In 13 minutes off the bench, big man Isaiah Armwood destroyed Maryland on the boards, helping Villanova a team-high eight first half rebounds, including three offensive boards where he looked dominant compared to the smaller Terps.

Armwood added five more boards in the second half, but it was really the superb perimeter shooting that stole the show for Villanova. On the game, Villanova shot 44 percent from the field and 31 percent from beyond the arc.

STOGLIN DISHIN’: After starting off the afternoon with four assists to zero shot attempts, Stoglin finished the opening half with five total dimes to 1-3 from the field, the bucket coming off a stolen inbound and easy lay-up.

Stoglin finished the game with nine FG attempts, with just six points in all. He showed better shot selection, but like many of his elder teammates was a non-factor during Villanova’s dominant stretch in the second half. Erratic shooting was not a part of Stoglin’s game on the afternoon. He finished the game with eight dimes to just one turnover.

OFF THE LINE: Villanova averages 26 trips to the charity stripe per game, but in this contest the Wildcats got to the take their 77 percent free throw shooting just three times in the opening half.

And as you would expect, a 19-0 would not be a 19-0 if not for Villanova getting to the line. The team got to the line 17 times in the second half where the Big East-leading free throw shooting team finished 75 percent at the line.

WILLIAMS GETTING DEFENSIVE: After trying to establish their own sophomore center Yarou Mouphtaou, Jordan Williams stepped up his defensive game to limit the Wildcat’s inside presence. Williams held Mouphtaou scoreless in the first half five, 0-4 from the field and a non-factor after the opening minutes. Williams also recorded his first block of the game against Mouphtaou, establishing he was the only sophomore big man in this show.

Mouphtaou collected two personal fouls trying to keep pace with Williams in the first half, and picked up a third with the first 20 seconds of the second half. However, despite foul trouble he remained in the game to grab 11 rebounds.

CHARITY PUTS TERPS UP AT HALF: Fifty-two percent free throw shooter Jordan Williams gave his Terps the lead at the half after getting fouled on numerous occasions in the final moments of the first half. His three free throws gave the Terps a three-point edge over Villanova at the half. The Terps are 9-1 when leading at the half.

ACTING THEIR AGE: Maryland had been doing an excellent job at not turning the ball over before today’s game. In their last five games they sported just a +5.8 turnover margin. They began the game with a 1:6 assist to turnover ratio.

In the final minutes of the first half, the Terps committed four turnovers in four straight possessions to conclude the half with 12 assists to six total turnovers.

It was the sloppy play that carried over to the second half of play though as Maryland turned the ball over eight more times, often as the most inopportune times. They finished the game with 19 assists and 14 turnovers, one more than Villanova.

NOT LIVING UP TO THE RECORD: Fans of the Terps have grown accustomed the seeing head coach Gary Williams beating top teams. Maryland has 72 wins over Top 25 teams, including 34 over Top 10 opponents and 23 in the last decade.

When the team had a chance to tackle the No. 7 team in the country, the team came up short, much like they did earlier in the week against then-No. 1 Duke. Although both games were on the road, they still lack of a true signature win to add to their resume.

LOSING MINUTES: His size and adequate free throw shooting makes you wonder why he is not a bigger part of the rotation for the Terps, but forward James Padgett’s minutes are slowly dwindling as of late.

Although scattered in numbers throughout the season, Padgett played just four minutes in the Terps ACC opener. He then went on to get 28 minutes in blowout victories over NJIT and North Florida before eight and four minutes apiece against Colgate and Duke, respectively. The 11 minutes against Wake Forest were the last time we saw him.

Against Villanova, Padgett saw no action, something to pay attention to going forward.

WHAT’S NEXT: After salvaging two of three games on the road against two top 10 teams in the land and a tough in-conference foe, Maryland returns home with a four-day break before hosting Virginia Tech and Clemson in a stretch of three days. The team will then have another four-day period off due to the start of the spring semester before traveling across state lines to Charlottesville, Va.

samspiegs@aol.com

Twitter: @samspiegs


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