At a time in the season where a close loss cannot be a sign of progress, dare we say that Monday night in Charlottesville was a sign of progress for Maryland?
On the road against one of the nation’s stingiest defenses, Maryland fought back Virginia run after Virginia run, coming one rattling three-point attempt away from cutting the deficit to just one point with 1:15 before a late Cavalier push helped coach Tony Bennett’s team to a 61-53 victory at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Va.
After Virginia pushed the lead to 11 points, 52-41, with 4:56 to play, a Maryland run cut the Cavaliers lead to as little as four, 54-50, with 2:11 remaining following a Nick Faust dunk.
Virginia’s Joe Harris finished with 19 points and Akil Mitchell had 13 points and six rebounds.
For Maryland, Seth Allen led the way with 15 points on 7-of-14 shooting and junior guard Dez Wells chipped in with 12.
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Virginia 61, Maryland 53
TURNOVERS LIMITED, SHOOTING LIMITED
Maryland committed just four turnovers in the first half against Virginia. When playing a team that is as efficient defensively as the Cavaliers, producing turnovers at the rate that the Terrapins typically does would quickly become an insurmountable lead.
The Terrapins finished with nine, which is acceptable against a team like Virginia, but their 28.6 percent shooting from three-point range and 40.4 percent mark from the field is what really sunk the ship on Monday night.
INTERIOR DEFENSE MUCH TO BE DESIRED
Maryland trio on the interior of Evan Smotrycz, Shaquille Cleare, and Charles Mitchell often looked lost in the paint against the motion offense Virginia used on Monday night. The Cavaliers scored 20 of their 25 first-half points inside the paint, often because of a lost assignment or late rotation.
As Maryland tried to correct that in the second, which left sharp-shooting guard Joe Harris wide open on the perimeter for two threes that set the tone early.
Smotrycz could do little to slow down the more physical and crafty Mitchell on the block on his way to the 13 points and six rebounds mentioned above.
LAYMAN INJURES EYE
With just under five minutes to go in the first half, Jake Layman took an incidental finger to the eye from Virginia guard Malcolm Brogdon and was mostly ineffective after the fact. According to the game’s television broadcast, Layman’s vision was clouded after the injury.
CUT IT CLOSE, BUT NOT CLOSE ENOUGH
Had a three-point by Evan Smotrycz with 1:15 to play happened to fall instead of rattling out, this could have been a one-point game down the stretch. Does that really count for anything? No, but it speaks to the fact that this was a closer game for the most part than the eight-point final would seem to indicate.
Virginia hit six of its seven free throws in the last 1:03 to seal the game.
ROAD WOES CONTINUE
Maryland is now 0-6 under head coach Mark Turgeon on the road against ranked opponents. Coming into the game, the Terrapins had never lost a game by less than 16 points, meaning that they accomplished something (if you'd like to call it that) on Monday.