Syracuse Survives Terrapin Rally

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Maryland fell to Syracuse, 57-55, Feb. 24 at the Comcast Center.

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Fair or foul?

Two Baltimore City College High School products met at the basket in the closing seconds Monday night in a finish eerily reminiscent of Syracuse's controversial loss at Duke Saturday.

This time C.J. Fair got the call, getting the best of his childhood Baltimore buddy Nick Faust and the fourth-ranked Orange held on for a 57-55 win at Maryland, snapping the former No. 1 ranked team's two-game winning streak.

"I thought he got fouled, I was right there," said Seth Allen, who led the Terps with 22 points. "I thought he got hit in the face. I thought it was a clear call but you can never rely on a call."

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who had complained so bitterly when Fair was called for a charge at Duke that he got an early exit from Cameron Indoor Stadium, was incredulous over the notion a foul would have been whistled there with six seconds left. "First off let me tell you this: they shot 27 free throws so if anyone is going to complain about officiating, I'm going to complain," he said. "But I think I did enough of that Saturday."

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon saw things differently.

"I thought Nick got fouled, and I think the replay showed that. It's been that kind of year for us. Didn't call it and they win the game."

Fact of the matter is Maryland did get another chance, Allen missing a desperation three at the final horn. Looking at the big picture of the game, the Terrapins (15-13, 7-8) had no one to blame but themselves as they fell to 0-6 against ranked teams this season.

The Terrapins shot just 35 percent and committed 18 turnovers that led to 26 Orange points. Syracuse forward Jerrami Grant left the game with a back injury and Maryland caught Syracuse coming off three games in five days and the emotional loss to the Blue Devils Saturday. Boeheim pointed out – loudly – that the Terrapins hadn't played since last Tuesday.

But the Terrapins connected on a season low 14 shots on a season low 40 attempts against that 2-3 zone and only Allen and Wells, who had 15 points (13 in the second half) gave Maryland a fighting chance as the Terps fell for the third time in the last four games and the fifth time in the last seven contests.

"We could have won this game like we could have won against Duke and Virginia and all the good teams we've been playing really close," said Wells who was 4-of-6 from the field and 7-of-8 at the line, part of Maryland's 19-of-27 night at the line. "Something has to happen and that's something me and Coach Turgeon are going to talk about. And I'm just going to put it on my shoulders to figure out what we need to do and what needs to happen for us to take that jump."

Syracuse (25-2, 12-2) got 20 points from freshman point guard Tyler Ennis, many at the most opportune junctures and 17 points and nine rebounds from Fair. Allen and Wells not only had 38 of Maryland's 55 points (the second fewest total points this season), they also hit 10-of-17 shots, meaning the rest of the team – seven players – combined for 17 points and 4-of-23 shooting. No one else had more than one field goal against that 2-3 zone played in every church league in America. But no church league team has athletes like Syracuse playing that zone, meaning often opponents don't have a prayer. "They're very long," explained Allen, who hit 6-of-9 behind the arc but also had five turnovers. "We never played a zone like that. We had a good game-plan, there were just a coupe of nitpicky plays…"

Allen had the last one, his running three bouncing away harmlessly at the final buzzer. "I only had three seconds so I tried to get the best shot I could," he said. "They're very long. When I was driving I had to run through a lot of them because they're so tall. I tried to put up a shot and it just didn't fall."

"There's a reason (Boeheim) won 900 games," added Turgeon. "They took the initial play away and I wish we had gotten the ball a little further forward for Seth. That was our third option, but it was the safe option. Give them credit. They kind of double-teamed it. I wish he would have gone straight up instead but Seth made a lot of shots for us tonight."

Faust Fouled?

The key play probably came on the previous Maryland possession. Down by one, Wells forced Fair into a miss and the Terrapins came down with less than 20 seconds and the clock running. Wells got the rebound, drove down the floor but had to give the ball to Faust out of a double-team. Faust drove that same left baseline that his boyhood buddy Fair had Saturday at Duke, only this time Fair was waiting and got a hand on the ball as Faust went down hard.

The Orange came up with the ball and Trevor Cooney went to the line where he hit one of two to make it 57-55 with four seconds to go. Wells rebounded the second shot and got a timeout at 3.5, to give Maryland that last chance by Allen.

The Terrapins, playing their third ranked-opponent in the last four contests, got back into the game when out of a timeout, they got a defensive stop. Allen then drained a 3-pointer to make it 44-37 with 8:58 left. Before Maryland momentum could take hold, though, Michael Gbinije canned a baseline three just 16 seconds later, and then Ennis hit a short turnaround to push the lead back to 49-37 at 7:52.

With the offense sputtering, all the Terrapin points were coming at the free throw line, two freebies by Faust and three out of four shooting there from Wells, who had found his offense in the second half after two points in the first stanza. The Terrapins chipped away to make it 51-42 on Wells' last two free throws at 5:13.

After an Orange miss, Jake Layman drilled a baseline three, his only field goal and Maryland's first field goal in nearly five minutes, to make it a six-point game and wake the sellout crowd of 17,950. Faust got a steal on the inbound and added two free throws at 4:35 to make it 51-47.

"Late we just got stops and the crowd got into it," said Allen of the turnaround. "They kept us going. And we made shots. That was big for us."

And speaking of big, Fair hit a huge 3-pointer at 3:06 to push the lead to 54-47, but after a timeout, Allen answered with a three to make it a four-point game again. Cooney hit a tough fall-away as the shot clock horn went off and it was 56-50 with 1:54 remaining.

Cooney, who had nine points on an off (3-of-13, 2-of-12) shooting night, had a three roll off and Wells canned two more free throws. In a full-court press, Layman tipped a pass and came up with it. He was fouled and hit one of two at 47.7 seconds to make it 56-55, and set up the final sequence.

Wells sought out Allen after the miss at the buzzer, wrapping his arms around the sophomore and patting the back of his head. "I told him in order to be a big time player and take big shots like that, you can't fear the consequences," said Wells, who led Maryland with seven rebounds. "You can't fear what people are going to say about you. You can't fear whether people are going to blame you about it. You have to shake it off and move on. That happens, it's part of basketball."

Wells didn't get his first field goal until 17:37 of the second half but followed quickly with another one, and the Terps were within 34-28. Wells added another basket two minutes later after an Ennis 3-pointer but Ennis got a lay-in when Cooney had a rebound come right to him as he was falling out of bounds and fed his teammate.

Ennis scored on another drive to push the lead to 12. Allen hit two free throws to cut it back to 42-32 at 10:24, Maryland's first points in six minutes and 39 seconds. The first Terrapin field goal in seven minutes, 16 seconds came when Wells got inside to make it 44-34 at 9:47.

"You've got to give (Syracuse) credit," said Turgeon. "Their length and their zone is unique. We just didn't attack the way we needed to attack it. We waited until we were down. Just careless turnovers and we missed some shots against it early."

Faust finished 0-of-6 from the field but got five points, all at the line, to go with five rebounds and three assists in 30 minutes. He wasn't available after the game to talk about the big late sequence or playing against his old pal, Fair.

Layman finished with six points and six rebounds, shooting 1-of-6 from the field in 35 minutes. Charles Mitchell started at center and had two points (1-of-4) and four rebounds in 21 minutes. Evan Smotrycz had three points and three rebounds, hitting 1-of-4 shots, all behind the arc, and fouling out with 6:05 to play.

Roddy Peters had two points in eight minutes, and Damonte Dodd got 13 minutes, contributing two rebounds and a block. Shaquille Cleare didn't play until the second half and then only two minutes, as the center rotation remains in flux heading to Clemson Saturday.

The next home game is Tue., March 4 against Virginia Tech.

Terps Dig a First Half Hole

Maryland had trailed 32-24 at the half, shooting just 31.8 percent (7-of-22) and yielding 19 points off 12 turnovers against that familiar 2-3 Syracuse zone. Ennis' arcing 3-pointer over 6-9 Dodd at 0.3 on the clock served as an exclamation point.

The Orange hit 14-of-28 from the field and only Maryland's 5-of-8 shooting (4-of-5 by Allen) kept the Terps within striking distance.

The Terrapins had closed a 10-point lead back to three when the Orange ran off six straight points, four by Fair, to lead 26-17 at 6:11, on his floater. Peters hit a short jumper and Allen got two free throws after Fair picked up his third foul at 4:55, and had to sit the rest of the half with his 10 points.

Ennis hit a baseline drive to stop the mini-Maryland run and make it 28-21. Allen hit a three at 2:36 to make it a four-point game. The Terps had a fastbreak and a chance to get closer but Wells threw too hard to Faust for the 10th turnover of the half.

Seven of Syracuse's first nine points came off turnovers by the tentative Terps. When Ennis glided in with a steal and a layup at 12:03, the Orange led 16-8. The Terrapins had led 5-3 at 18:03 when Wells knocked the ball loose and Mitchell dribbled in for a dunk that made the noise in Comcast Center deafening.

But an 8-0 Orange run quieted the crowd, Maryland with five turnovers in the first seven minutes. The Terps also helped dig that early hole by hitting just three of their first 15 shots from the field and only three of their first six free throws.

Grant hit a tough baseline drive to break a 5-5 tie, and Syracuse was off. Grant got a dunk and Fair hit a jumper to make it 11-5. Allen ended a four-minute and four-second Maryland scoring drought with a three but Cooney got it right back and then Ennis made his play.

The Terrapins battled back from 10 down, Layman hitting two free throws, and Smotrycz nailing a second chance 3-pointer at 8:51 to make it 18-14. An Allen three closed it to 20-17, but Syracuse went on another run.

"It was right there for us and we just couldn't get it going," said Turgeon. "Disappointed. I felt like in this building if we play the way we're capable of we're better than them. That's easy to say. We didn't do it." [Word]

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