But right now, three games into the season, Maryland's 74-72 overtime win over Northeastern left Terrapins coach Gary Williams with concerns that need to be addressed before Monday's match-up with No. 2 UCLA.
The offense still seemed rushed. Sloppy play meant 20-plus turnovers for the third time this season. A crucial defensive mistake left Northeastern's Manny Adako open in the corner to hit the game-tying three- pointer with 8 seconds left in regulation.
Above them all, though—and most alarming, Williams said--was a lack of consistent energy from his team.
"We aren't the type of team that can come to game and not bring our energy with us… We have to figure out a way to bring energy to the game. Hopefully from the last two nights we've learned that," Williams said.
Maryland (3-0) played from behind for much of the last 11 minutes. With 2:01 left, two James Gist free throws gave the Terps a 59-54 lead.
Twenty-one seconds later, Adako responded with a two-point basket. Bambale Osby made one-of-two free throws and Matt Janning, last season's CAA rookie of the year, cut the lead to two with a short jumper in the lane with 28 seconds left.
Landon Milbourne was fouled immediately and made only the front end of his two free throws, giving the Terps a 61-58 lead. Northeastern's Baptiste Bataille drove the lane with ten seconds left, causing a Maryland defender to collapse and leave Adako open in the corner. Adako, a sophomore, stepped back and swished his first career three-point attempt to tie the game at 61.
Greivis Vasquez's desperation three didn't fall, and the shocked crowd at Comcast Center prepared itself for an unexpected extra five minutes of basketball.
Maryland hit just two field goals in overtime, but did its damage at the line. The Terps were there often Thursday night—46 times to be exact, which Williams attributed to their propensity to work the ball inside. Northeastern had four players foul out, including two starters. Maryland hit eight of its 10 free throws in overtime and held on for the win.
Exhale. Another upset averted. UCLA in four days.
"We still got to look back at what we did wrong," said Osby, whose 16 points and 13 rebounds gave him his first career double-double. "We still got to look at all that stuff and figure out where we can do better."
Vasquez, who finished with 9 points, 10 assists and only 2 turnovers, was more matter-of-fact in explaining Maryland's struggles.
"We're not executing at all," he said.
Maryland (3-0) led 28-22 at half behind 14 points from James Gist, who scored the Terps' first 11 points. He sat the final 8:20 of the half with two fouls, however, and Maryland only scored 7 points during that stretch. Execution and turnovers played a big part in that.
Maryland's defense forced Northeastern (0-2) to shoot just 26.5 percent from floor and 2-14 from three-point range in the half.
"We're not playing bad defense. That's probably saved us the last two games," Williams said.
Northeastern took its first lead with 11:31 left in the game with the help of six Maryland turnovers during that stretch to start the second half. A little less than two minutes later and the Terps faced a 46-40 deficit, its largest of the season.
It was an unlikely source that aided the Maryland comeback: Osby's foul shooting. He came into the game shooting 9-19 from the free throw line, but nailed 6-6 in the next six minutes, with the final one tying the game at 54. Osby finished 14-20 from the free throw line.
Gist finished with a career-high 27 points, leading all scorers. Maryland's starters—Eric Hayes, Vasquez, Milbourne, Gist and Osby—scored all but six of the team's points.
For Williams, who was both concerned and relieved after the game, Thursday's narrow victory was another lesson for his young team.
"It's a great tape for us to watch. We can certainly learn some things from it and hopefully we will," he said.
"And we're 3-0."
Maryland Escapes Northeastern, 74-72
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