Terps stunned by Ohio, 61-55

A few feet from where Ohio guard Bubba Walther held the ball for the final few seconds Wednesday, Maryland coach Gary Williams kneeled in front of the bench, a vacuous expression on his face. It was an unusual look for Williams, who zealously paces the sidelines for entire games.

But after watching another uninspired performance from his team, culminating in a 61-55 home loss to Ohio, no other expression fit. A slow start and inconsistent defense left Maryland (6-5) in a hole too big to climb out of, even against a middling team from the Mid-America Conference.

And to find the source of Maryland's worst start in over a decade, Williams looked beyond the on-court performance.

"We have to grow up, and I don't mean the freshmen," said Williams, who dropped his first game as coach of Maryland to a MAC team. "We as a team have to grow up. There has to be a caring thing that this has to be real important. I think that has something to do with it when you don't play with the intensity level necessary."

Ohio (6-2) went up 7-4 at the 17:15 mark in the first half and never relinquished the lead. The Bobcats, behind strong inside play from forwards Jerome Tillman (20 points) and Leon Williams (15 points), went into the half up 34-23, Maryland's largest halftime deficit of the season.

Down by as many as 17 in the second half, the Terps rallied to cut the lead to 3 with just under a minute left, but were unable to score again.

"We're not here to make nice runs," Williams said. "We're here to try to win."

Maryland was without James Gist down the stretch after he fouled out at the 5:17 mark with 8 points.

The Terps continued to struggle from three-point range, hitting just 1-of-8 in the first half and 7-of-23 for the game. On the season, they have shot 31.4 percent (55-175) from behind the arc.

The telling stat for Williams, though, was Ohio's 37-27 rebounding advantage. Williams reiterated that rebounding is mostly a product of effort, and Maryland's season-low output on the boards could have told the story of the night by itself.

"Ohio U. was the more energetic team. You can tell with the rebound totals--beating us to the ball," Williams said. "We just allowed them to dictate the whole game."

Said Greivis Vasquez: "We let people talk bad about us because we really don't play hard."

Williams said that his players have to bring a complete effort to the game every night. With half the team comprised of freshmen, he said, they have to learn to break the summer basketball mentality, where wins and losses don't matter. They have to understand the importance of each game and their time at Maryland as a whole.

"It's a great experience that stays with you the rest of your life," Williams said. "You try to get that in to every team—that feeling, that caring of how important that is. We have to find that for this team."

Cliff Tucker echoed Williams' sentiments, and cited a potential cause for the lack of intensity and urgency so far.

"There's a lot of people talking before games and they're not showing it on the court," said the freshman, who had 4 points Wednesday. "You just have to be ready to play. A lot of people are worried about other things like social lives and stuff like that. We just got to be focused on basketball and come ready and stop doing all this talking and come play."

With four non-conference losses and a 0-1 start to conference play, Maryland's postseason resume has already taken a big hit. But as one fan reminded the team as it exited the court, it's a long season. And the longest part will be the next week, when the team is off for exams and has to wait until next Saturday to play again.

"This is a huge setback, two losses on your home court early in the season," Gist said. "For us, we have 10 days to think about this until our next game. It's tough."

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