For Maryland, a Tale of Two Halves v. Illini

The Illini topped the Terps for a second straight year, 71-62.

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Sam Maniscalco was a Terp killer Tuesday night. With clutch shooting and timely baskets, he was the second-half spark for the Illini, who topped Maryland for a second straight year, 71-62.

The Illinois guard scored a team-high 24 points, 15 in the second half, and sank five 3-pointers, including one that would give his team the lead for the second time in the game. It was a lead they would not lose.

As Illinois (7-0) hit their stride in the second half, Maryland (3-3) faded. The Terps' offense stalled, shooting a measly 33 percent from the field, 18 percent from beyond the arc. The Illini dominated the boards, outrebounding them by a 22-14 margin. And poor free-throw shooting came back to bite them.

"[In the] second half, give Illinois credit, they took us out of everything," head coach Mark Turgeon said after the game. "I've got to do a little bit of a better job of figuring out ways to get into our offense besides a ball screen and I will. I told the guys it's a fine line between winning and losing. At this point right now, we do not know how to win against a good team, but we will. We're making tremendous strides and that was a good team that was well coached."

The offensive woes stem from the point guard position, Turgeon said, as Nick Faust and Terrell Stoglin continue to share duties. The two combined for three of the team's five assists.

Faust, a true shooting guard, is playing in place of the injured Pe'Shon Howard. But with a lack of scoring from Sean Mosley, Stoglin has been forced to shoulder the load offensively. He led all scorers with 25 points tonight.

"I thought [Stoglin's shot selection] was better in the first half, but in the second half him and Nick kind of panicked a little bit. It was as bad as it could get there for a little while offensively," Turgeon said.

In the first half, Stoglin thrived when Faust took over the point. With the game knotted up at 20, Stoglin sank four buckets in a row, scoring nine straight Maryland points. Stoglin scored 13 points in 15 first-half minutes, lifting his team to a 35-31 advantage at the half.

Stoglin was held in check for most of the second half, though. After a jumper at the 18:18 mark, Stoglin did not score for more than seven minutes until he made a pair of free throws that brought Maryland within three.

As Stoglin struggled, so did the rest of the Terps offense. The team went scoreless for nearly five minutes while Illinois enjoyed a 16-6 run.

"Illinois did a great job defending, and kind of got us out of our sets," forward James Padgett said. "We started rushing. We weren't executing and missed a lot of free throws. They got a couple of offensive rebounds on their free throws, so that was the difference."

Padgett set new career marks in points (16) and field goals (6). Making his second consecutive start following an 11-point outing against Florida Gulf Coast, Padgett accounted for Maryland's first six points, including four free throws.

His offensive outburst was a point of encouragement, but his defensive struggles proved costly. Averaging six rebounds per game entering this contest, Padgett hauled in five offensive boards but not a single one on the defensive side.

"I'm proud of James, but I expect a lot out of James," Turgeon said. "James can give us more. He's got to defensive rebound. If you do it on one end, you've got to be able to do it on the other."

Maryland fell to 9-4 overall in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and broke a streak of 13 consecutive victories against non-conference foes. Their last loss in a non-conference game at Comcast Center came in 2009 against William and Mary.

There was a silver lining, according to Turgeon, who said his team has shown vast improvement since their performance last week in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

The team's execution, he said, was the best he's seen all season, and if not for the poor free-throw shooting and defensive rebounding, it may have been a different outcome.

" I've got a lot of faith in our team," Turgeon said. "I didn't have it a week ago when we came back from Puerto Rico. I felt a lot better about our team today, but we still lost and it's about winning."

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