Buzzer-Beater Sinks Terps in the BB&T
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Everyone will remember Maurice Creek's cold-blooded jumper with 0.6 seconds at the end of the game that beat Maryland Sunday at the Verizon Center in the BB&T Classic.
The shot, over a slipping Nick Faust and against a Terrapin defense that knew exactly what was coming, gave George Washington a dramatic 77-75 victory before 9,183 fans, spoiling a furious Maryland rally and handing the Terps their second straight loss.
That ending will also deflect criticism from the 5-4 Terrapins' true problem, which is the way they begin games. Another sluggish first half saw Maryland dig an early hole they never got out of until the final 1:10, when Charles Mitchell got a stickback to tie the game 73-73, the Terrapins overcoming several 14-point deficits along the way.
"Our intensity in the beginning just wasn't there," said Jake Layman, who finished with 13 points and six rebounds. "They wanted it more than we did. We fell behind. Our press definitely sparked us but we need to learn it can't always be our press that sparks us. We have to be solid defensively."
Frustrated Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, still looking for the right buttons to push, echoed the same sentiments. "I don't know what it is, I was begging our bench to get into the game. I said, ‘Have the referees asked you to sit down one time?' Just everybody was like that. Our huddles were better tonight. I don't know. I don't want to have to rely on our press to get us going. I don't want to get behind by 14 or the coach get a technical to get ourselves going. We'll keep plugging."
That said, Maryland also lost to a talented George Washington (8-1) team that began receiving votes in the national polls after knocking off 18th ranked Creighton last Sunday. Mitchell's score brought the Terrapins even, the first time they had led or been tied since the first three minutes. And after a timeout, Mitchell had his hands on the ball on the low block with a chance to give Maryland its first lead since 7-6 at the 17-minute mark.
But scrappy Creek, on his way to a game-high 25 points, got his hand in there and came up with the ball in a scramble on the floor. Mitchell, meanwhile, was called for a foul that had an already had a ticked-off Turgeon jumping up and down.
"I thought we got fouled," he said. "It ended up being a foul on us. That was a big play in the game."
Ultimately, Indiana-transfer Creek hit two free throws with 29.2 seconds left to put GW ahead 75-73. Creek was 10-of-12 at the line, and the Colonials were 26-of-33 overall at the line, perhaps a considerable part of Turgeon's displeasure.
But Maryland freshman Roddy Peters, pressed into his most important minutes of the year after Dez Wells fouled out with over six minutes to play, was fouled on a drive and hit both shots to tie the game back up at 20.7 seconds.
The Maryland full-court press with Layman at the point that had given George Washington fits in the final minutes, again nearly produced a turnover before the Colonials got the ball in the front court and finally got a timeout at 8.1 seconds.
"We knew they were going to go to Creek on the last play," said Layman. "We put Nick on him, who's obviously a great defender. Nick slipped a little when (Creek) did the step back and he hit it."
Peters, according to Turgeon, was supposed to double off and help but isn't enough of a student of the game on the defensive end to make that play in the hectic final seconds.
Faust got off a desperate heave inside half court after the buzzer sounded.
The Terps had trailed by 14 again when they started a dramatic late run, starting with the unlikely Varun Ram hitting a baseline 3 at 4:57 to make it 68-57. Faust, who had found the open Ram cross-court, then knocked down a 3. Layman got a steal in the press, and Peters ended up converting a 3-point play at 4:06 to make it 68-63, the closest the Terrapins had been since 12:15 of the first half.
"I thought he just played," said Turgeon of Peters. "He made some nice plays. They went zone (late), so we had one less shooter on the floor (without Wells). They didn't guard Roddy so he kept trying to make plays. He did some nice things. Defensively, he had a big steal there at half court and had the steal in the press. I thought our whole team was more aggressive."
Peters finished with a season-high 11 points to go with three assists and a season-high three steals in 19 minutes. Faust, who gave way to Ram in the starting lineup, played 30 minutes and had seven points, three assists and three steals. He and Peters played well in the open-court game Maryland forced late.
"When we made the game chaotic, we were pretty good," said Turgeon. "But we got out-rebounded and that was one of our emphasis'. We gave up 13 offensive rebounds. That's too many."
George Washington, which seemed to snatch all the loose balls in the first half, finished with a 38-36 rebounding edge but also had 19 turnovers to Maryland's 18. The Terps, picking up the pace in the second half, had a season-high 11 steals, all but one in the final 20 minutes.
"We really got after it playing in the press," said Jonathan Graham, a big part of the getting after it. "We kept our hands high and got a lot of deflections. We played tremendous defense (late) and it was just our effort."
Graham had season highs of 15 minutes, five points, five rebounds and three blocked shots. Foul trouble on Evan Smotrcyz, who had 11 points and six rebounds, got more minutes for Graham but his athleticism and hustle should earn him more time. "Jon and Roddy definitely stepped up," noted Layman. "We know what intensity we have to play with to be a great team."
Maryland would get even closer after moving within five, mustering an effort at both ends that had been missing much of the contest. Layman stuck back a Smotrycz miss at 3:25 to make it 70-67, and the Terps would get closer 24 seconds later when Peters turned a steal into a layup and a 71-69 deficit.
Two Creek free throws made it a four-point game, but then Layman scored inside from Faust and Mitchell drew a charge to get the ball back. His stickback at 1:10 tied it up.
"It comes from top to bottom, everyone has to be in the game," said Graham. "I feel for the most part we were. Just getting stops and playing hard got us back."
Trailing by 12, Maryland made its first serious run. Layman got an old-fashioned 3-point play and then Wells scored in transition for a quick 7-0 run that cut the lead to 54-47 at 11:55.
But big man Nemanja Mikic scored inside easily to stop the spree. Wells hit one of two free throws, but Creek spun inside on a drive and made it 58-48.
The Colonials pushed the lead back to 14 on a sequence that saw Creek hit four consecutive free throws, two for a foul and two more for a Turgeon technical. With 7:49 left, GW led 66-52. At 6:09, Wells fouled out with 16 points, and the final rally came without him.
Mitchell finished with six points and six rebounds, and was 2-for-2 at the line, as the Terps canned 20-of-26, as a team, the most Maryland had shot and made since a 21-of-28 effort in the season-opener against UConn.
Shaquille Cleare had three points and three rebounds in 11 minutes, and was 1-of-2 at the stripe.
GW got a stickback from Joe McDonald to open the second half and push the Colonial lead right back to 14 at 43-29. Wells scored a couple of baskets and the Maryland offense seemed to have adjusted to the Colonials' quickness.
Peters found Graham for a 3-point play and when Layman hit an open 3 at 16:02, the Terrapins were back within 48-40. The Colonials ran off six of the next eight points to lead 54-42 at 13:27, when Isaiah Armwood scored inside. The 6-9 Armwood, a Baltimore native, had 11 points and 12 rebounds.
It was 6-3 Kethan Savage of Fairfax, Va., who hurt the Terrapins inside on a couple of occasions late. He had 14 points and four steals.
"I was really proud of my team," Turgeon summed up. "We don't have a lot of things going our way right now. Balls are going in-and-out. Guys are making tough shots against us. We never quit and had a chance to win it. We had the ball with the score tied and I thought we got fouled."
The Colonials dominated the first half, holding the discombobulated Terrapins to just 30 percent (9-of-30) shooting, and leading 41-29. Maryland shot 47.1 percent in the second half and finished at 39.1, the same as at Ohio State. George Washington's quickness and athleticism challenged Maryland at both ends and the Colonials had a 21-20 rebounding edge at the break and just four turnovers to Maryland's eight.
Turgeon said they had worked against Colonials' entire offense but it didn't show: "Some of the mistakes we had at the beginning of the game, we worked really hard guarding their sets. We knew exactly what they were going to do. Some of the mistakes are just mind-boggling to me. I can stand missed shots as long as we're doing the other things well, if the shots are good, but it's hard with that."
The Terrapins, in a move to steady their backcourt, even started Ram at point but he was out of the game just 1:23 in with two fouls. GW went on an 8-1 run midway through the first half to open up a working margin. It was 24-12 at 9:30 when Creek hit a 3. Peters stopped the train with a fastbreak runner at 8:25, for Maryland's first field goal in nearly four minutes, emblematic of Maryland's offensive woes.
Faust hit two free throws to bring Maryland back within 24-16 at 7:36, but that was as close as the Terps would get the rest of the half. The Colonials led by as many as 14 with 3:11 left when Savage hit a driving layup, one of 16 GW points in the paint in the opening stanza.
Five Terps – Ram, Smotrycz, Cleare, Mitchell and Wells – each picked up two fouls trying to contend with quick Colonials. With the foul trouble, Graham gave Terps a lift off the bench near the end of the half with active, aggressive play around the basket.
The Colonials had opened up a 6-2 lead to start the game but Smotrycz canned a 3 and when Wells went coast to coast for a layup, Maryland led 7-6.
Ram, the junior walk-on, making his first career start was the last Terrapin introduced in pregame. He sat on the bench clapping vigorously – his normal role – as Smotrycz, Layman, Wells and Cleare were all introduced ahead of him.
GW improved to 5-5 against Maryland in the annual charity event, but still trails the all-time series with the Terps, 36-32.
Oklahoma improved to 8-1 with an 81-66 win over George Mason in the first game of the BB&T.
The Terrapins travel to Boston College Thursday to open ACC play. The next home game is Dec. 14 against Florida Atlantic.
"This losing is no fun," said Turgeon, shaking his head.
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