Maryland walked--or rather, was forced--down the plank in the ACC by a physical Pittsburgh team, then more by red-hot Florida State team, and even further toward the edge during a first half against Notre Dame that was as equally unsightly as the first two.
But Maryland made a conscious decision at halftime of that game on Wednesday that they, in fact, controlled their destiny, promptly turning themselves around, reclaiming the power from the Irish and storming back to win, 74-66.
The win keeps Maryland’s head above water at 3-2 in ACC play while the events and ramifications of that game have now had four days to settle in.
“If we would have lost the game or played the same way in the second half as we did the first half, you know, we’d be searching,” head coach Mark Turgeon told the media on Sunday. “But the guys responded and played well and had a good second half.”
Forward Charles Mitchell, whose 10 points and seven rebounds helped to spark the second-half comeback, took it a step further.
“That’s like a season-defining second half like how we came out and played. Like you always want to mold something where you go back and say, ‘That game right there, that moment, like changed this team.’”
Whether or not that second half does change what has been an undeniably underwhelming season for Maryland is yet to be seen. It doesn’t even really mean that the momentum necessarily carries over to Monday night’s 9 p.m. tip-off in Raleigh against N.C. State.
The Wolfpack, coming off a 35-point loss to Duke on Saturday, feature the conference’s leading scorer, T.J. Warren, and a freshman point guard, Anthony “Cat” Barber, whose speed separates him from other lead guards.
"When we're having fun, that's when we're at our best," junior wing Nick Faust said. "Overall, if we just keep playing the way we do, just loose and having fun, then we'll have a great turnaround."
Monday’s game begins a stretch of five road games out of the next eight overall for the Terrapins, a month at the end of which Maryland could be in two very different spots, heading into the final stretch of the season.
And it begins with a winnable game in Raleigh.