The Terps came out of the gate cold in the first half Friday, registering only two points in the game's first five minutes. Then, an unlikely hero came to Maryland's rescue.
Sophomore forward John Auslander provided a boost for a sluggish lineup, drawing a bucket plus the foul, hitting a running jumper and then taking a charge on the defensive end. The 6-foot-7 sophomore ended the game with six points and drew praise from his coach and teammates afterwards.
Well, John does everything right, said Coach Mark Turgeon. Physically, he can't do some things that he has to try to do, but he does everything right He understands how to play the game and we're teaching other guys how to play the game right now.
He's a hard worker, said Stoglin. He's always ready to play hard. Always. I'm just happy he got his break tonight.
Auslander, who suffered through a surgery in the offseason, added a rebound and an assist in his 20 minutes of play on Friday, which was more than other Terps such as James Padgett, Berend Weijs, Mychal Parker and Ashton Pankey.
Maryland had some solid defensive stretches on the night, holding the Eagles to multiple two to three minute scoring droughts and forcing 16 turnovers. Yet, as they have struggled with multiple times this season, the Terps gave up easy second chance points, which allowed the opponent to hang around.
I thought defensively we were much better [in the first half], said Turgeon. But our transition was bad at time, our turnovers are still bad. We give up some easy ones. We give up four or six points off of turnovers a half.
After a late Stoglin jumper and a Nick Faust slam, the Terps seemed to have the momentum heading into the break until a defensive collapse led to a Dante Holmes buzzer-beating jumper, narrowing the Maryland lead to 37-24 going into the half.
Maryland widened their lead to start the second half with a nice run in the opening five minutes, led in large part by junior forward James Padgett. After hitting one of two free throws, Padgett proceeded to score on the next two possessions. The junior from the Bronx then grabbed a rebound on an Eagles' miss, which Stoglin quickly pushed ahead to a streaking Nick Faust for an emphatic slam that gave the Terps a 43-30 lead heading into a timeout.
The Eagles kept the game relatively close however, as Maryland leads of 16 and 13 were quickly brought back to nine and 11-point deficits early in the final half.
One of the players who kept the Maryland lead at double digits early in the second half was senior center Berend Weijs, who started his first game as a Terrapin on Friday. Weijs ended the game with seven points, three rebounds and two blocks after seeing limited action in the first half.
Berend has given me everything he has, everyday, said Turgeon. And that's why I rewarded him. He's trying as hard as he can try.
After a James Padgett poster dunk at the 6:15 mark, freshman guard Brett Comer converted an acrobatic and-one play to cut the lead to 61-54. The young Terps found the composure to respond, with a Padgett basket followed up quickly by a Faust basket after the freshman stole the inbound pass. The flurry of buckets gave the Terps a 66-55 lead with just under 4:30 remaining. But the game was far from over.
A Comer basket off of a Stoglin turnover with just over two minutes remaining brought the score to 65-60. A couple of Nick Faust free throws were quickly answered by a Chase Fieler basket, bringing the Terps' lead back to five.
Two uncharacteristic misses from the line by Stoglin kept it close with just under a minute remaining, but Stoglin's rebound off his second miss led to a one-point trip to the line by Weijs.
After and Eagles' basket brought the lead to four, Stoglin again missed both shots from the line, giving the opponent life with 0:49 remaining. Yet, a turnover on the other end gave Stoglin a chance to redeem himself at the line. The sophomore was able to knock down one of two, giving the Terps a five-point lead.
A missed 3-pointer by Sherwood Brown sent Stoglin back to the line where he again struggled, going one of two and giving his team a six point lead with 0:14 remaining.
A failed trip on the other end for the Eagles sealed a 72-67 win for Maryland.
After going 9-for-12 from the line as a team in the first half, the Terps were a horrific 14-for-27 in the second half.
As for the close call, a few of the Terps' upperclassmen felt the team may have gotten too comfortable.
We settled and didn't attack and that was the one thing that coach wanted us to do: attack, so they can't get from out of their press defense, said Sean Mosley.
We went out underestimating them in the beginning I would say, said James Padgett.
One of the Terps' weak points on the evening was their ability, or lack thereof, to handle the Eagles' press. Maryland committed 16 turnovers on the night, leading to 19 points by the opposition.
We just didn't handle their press, said Turgeon. If we just handle their press, we're really happy right now If we just handled the press in a press offense that I believe in, that I've seen work at the highest level against the best teams but we'll get better at it. If we handle the press, we win by 20.
At times, Stoglin had to take on the Eagles' press by himself, which the coach and his point guard felt may have contributed to the sophomore's fatigue in the closing minutes.
Terrell's trying to go one on five in the press offense and sometime he has to, said Turgeon. I don't know what he ended up with - 24? He missed nine free throws; he would've had 30. Normal night, if he wasn't so tired.
Another obvious concern for the Terps was the free throw shooting of the team in general (23-for-39 - 59.0%), but also of the usually sure-shot Stoglin, who went 12-for-21 on the day after his late struggles.
He made plays that no one else could make, said Turgeon. He just got to the foul line and couldn't make free throws I thought offensively Terrell played pretty good if you take away the missed free throws.
I've never missed that many free throws in a game before, said Stoglin. Honestly, the free throws felt good. I was trying to figure why they came off but I just gotta make 'em.
After having a few impressive games in Puerto Rico, including 16 points in the Colorado win and 21 against Iona, guard Sean Mosley was limited to only six shots on the night. It was later revealed however, that the senior had rolled his ankle during the game.
He was trying to be unselfish, but then the last ten minutes of the game we were so out of kilter that we had no idea what we were doing, said Turgeon. Six shots is not enough. He's gotta get to the foul line more and he's gotta do more His ankle was bothering him tonight a little bit but we gotta get him healthy before Tuesday.
I've gotta get some treatment and do what I can do, said Mosley. It's an injury but I can't let it affect how I'm gonna play on Tuesday.
The Terps (3-2, 0-0 ACC) return to the Comcast Center on Tuesday to take on Illinois (5-0, 0-0 Big 10) as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on ESPN.
The Terps return to the Comcast Center Friday marked the beginning of a nine game stretch in which Maryland will be playing in the DC area. Eight of the next nine games for the Terps will be at Comcast, the one away from home coming on a Dec. 4 matchup with Notre Dame at the Verizon Center.
The Terps' trip to Puerto Rico was a roller coaster to say the least. The young team wasn't expected to put up much of a fight in their opening round game against No. 15 Alabama, but nobody predicted the abysmal shooting display that took place, as the Terps shot 26.5% (13-of-49) from the field in a 62-42 loss. Not one Maryland player was in double figures in scoring against the Tide, with James Padgett leading the way with nine.
The second round game against Colorado turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Facing an 11-point deficit in the second half, Terrell Stoglin scored 25 of his career-high 32 to lead Maryland to a 78-71 victory.
The Sunday matchup against Iona was a very different story. The Gaels rode a second half shooting spree, in which they shot 65.7% from the field, to trump the Terrapins by a final of 89-63. Maryland had a season-high 26 turnovers, their most since last year's season-opener against Seattle University (29).