Sluggish Terps Fall to Hokies

Despite the crowd's effort to disrupt the flow of Malcolm Delaney and the Virginia Tech Hokies, the Terps played an uncharacteristic game in their return to the Comcast Center.

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Since the onset of Maryland basketball in the 1920s, when Walter Troxell and John Faber roamed the hardwood, fans of the Terrapins have made their presence felt, doing their part to provide the team with a home-field advantage.

For nearly a century Maryland has won over 74 percent of their home games and sports a 123-26 record at the Comcast Center. So when Virginia Tech guard Malcolm Delaney suggested the College Park faithful were the worst fans ever, the 17,950 on hand to try and make sure he left with a taste of regret.

As expected, whenever the ball brushed the fingertips of Delaney the Comcast Center erupted. But 19 points, seven assists and five rebounds later sent Maryland fans home with a sore throat, absent of a voice and disappointed with yet another letdown loss.

Delaney's backcourt partner Erick Green helped silence the crowd. His 24 points do not even tell the story, as the guard looked like he was playing a pick-up game against the second-stringers of a J.V. team. Green registered a game-high 24 points, including 12 of 16 from the floor.

The nation's sixth-ranked field goal defense, which has held the opposition to under 35 percent shooting in the last six contests, allowed the Hokies shot an unprecedented 53.6 percent from the field.

"Everybody came out flat. Erick Green was going by everybody on screens. That wasn't expected. We didn't get the job done," guard Adrian Bowie said following his team's 74-57 loss, their third in conference play.

The defensive void resonated on the offensive end as well. While Virginia Tech enjoyed an extended shootaround at Maryland's expense, the Terps shot a wretched 35.7 percent, and under 29 percent in the second half.

Maryland's ultimate weapon, Jordan Williams, took a grand total of nine shots and did not record his first bucket until the 4:52 mark in the first half. One explanation could have been the swarming zone pressure the Hokies attacked the Terps center with, crowding Williams whenever he came remotely close to sniffing the ball.

But if you asked Maryland head coach Gary Williams why the team could not execute the offense, he would tell you that zone, man or whatever defense the Terps could have faced – anything would have slowed his team down on this night.

"You wonder where that comes from. In other words, the efforts we made last week, playing three games in six days is one thing, and the effort we made tonight is another," Williams said. "Hopefully that's a one game thing."

Maryland coughed up two second half leads during their three-game road trip last week, faltering late to then No. 1 Duke and No. 7 Villanova. Against the Hokies though, they never had the opportunity to relinquish the lead because they trailed from the tip-off, when they fell into 12-0 rut.

Freshman point guard Terrell Stoglin, considered a sparkplug for quicker offensive starts by his head coach, was benched in favor of Pe'Shon Howard because he was late for a team meeting. He was joined on the pine by Bowie, who for the first time all season did not crack the starting five. Williams felt Cliff Tucker would be the better defender matching up with Delaney.

But it was not just the start of the game when the Terps' play looked questionable. The 11-point deficit tied the team's largest of the season. Their runs were few and far between.

With about 10 minutes remaining in the game, Maryland put forth its best run of the game. Tucker woke up after having made just one bucket and hit a trio of three-pointers and a jumper to cut Virginia Tech's lead to eight, the closest they had been all game long.

A 9-2 run by the Hokies with lengthy, clock-draining possessions all but sealed the game and sent fans out of the stadium early though.

The one bright spot: Williams matched the Maryland consecutive double-double record owned by Len Elmore, who coincidentally was on hand to call the game for ESPN2. Williams had 11 points and 11 boards, the 12th straight time he has reached double-digit scoring and rebounding. His 10th and 11th point came the hard way, as Hokies forward Jeff Allen elbowed Williams in the cheek, setting up a trip to the free-throw line.

Next up for the Terps is a Saturday afternoon showdown with Clemson at the Comcast Center. Williams said he will find out a lot about his team depending on how they respond to their crushing defeat tonight. The players seemed anxious to get back onto the court and redeem themselves. At 11-7, Maryland is still lacking a true signature win for their N.C.A.A. Tournament resume.


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