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Posted at 8:54 AM ET, 11/22/2010

Three days of heartbreak

By Rick Nelligan

Thursday through Saturday, it was pretty tough to be a fan of the Terrapins two major teams. It was a three day span that you knew could give Terps fans one more thing to be thankful for around the Thanksgiving table, or leave them with broken spirits. Well, unfortunately it was the latter. Coming into all three games the Terps were the underdogs. But these dogs came to play, and had great chances to win all three, only to have the carpet ripped from under them when all was said and done.

Thursday, Gary Williams and company had a shot at shocking the nation with a victory over a top-five Pittsburgh basketball team. Coming into the game, you couldn’t find any expert, non-Terp fan, or even deceased German octopus that would pick the Terps to beat the Panthers in Madison Square Garden. But they forgot the cardinal rule for a Gary Williams team – never count them out. While Pitt had the lead at halftime and the majority of the second half, the Terps were within a missed layup by Jordan Williams with 1:24 left of being down by only two points. Perhaps the most frustrating part of the loss was the fact the Terps only shot 14 percent from three and 46.7 percent from the free throw line. It’s like I saw our national recognition clanging off the rim every time we shot a free throw.

Friday, the Maryland basketball team had a chance to redeem itself with a matchup against 16th ranked Illinois. Again, the Terps came up short in a game in which not many gave them a chance but again they had an opportunity to win. Terrell Stoglin brought them within two points with ten seconds left, only to fall just short for the second night in a row. Once more, poor shooting stretches and foul trouble hindered the Terps as they shot just 43.3 percent from the field and 27.8 percent from three.

Saturday brought the loss that hurt the most, because it arguably meant the most. Maryland welcomed Florida State to College Park for a showdown to stay alive for the ACC Championship football game. Yet again, it was a game that no one outside the state of Maryland gave the Terps any chance to win. And again, the Terps had an excellent chance to win late -- even with the refs seemingly doing what they could to make sure that they didn’t. I’m still flabbergasted at how the refs didn’t overturn that late interception. That ball couldn’t have bounced more if the defensive back was playing basketball. Still, the Terps were on the Seminole 19-yard-line with roughly a minute left, driving for a game-tying touchdown, only to have the heart of every Terps fan ripped out of their chest when Nick Moody intercepted a pass that, if a foot lower, would have resulted in a first down inside the 10-yard-line. It was by far the most deflating feeling of the three day stretch.

Even with the heartbreak, it is still possible to take a positive or two out of those nightmarish three days. First, it’s like Ben Broman from testudotimes.com said, especially with football: it’s nice to know that our fan-hood still exists -- that we can still sell out Byrd and get excited and sell out for this football team. I would’ve loved for that to come along with a win, but it just wasn’t in the cards for us that night. Furthermore, we have to remember that these are still young teams with high upside for the future. So while we weren’t able to knock off a top five basketball team yet, or give ourselves a shot at the ACC Championship in football, we now have realistic hopes of doing so in the near future. At the beginning of the season for both teams, you couldn’t have said that with a straight face. And if that’s not enough for you, Maryland did win a national championship this weekend in field hockey. 27 sports, 1 team people. So in the end, through the heartbreak, there is still something to be thankful for this Thursday. Happy Thanksgiving, Terps fans.

By Rick Nelligan  | November 22, 2010; 8:54 AM ET
Categories:  Rick Nelligan, Terps  | Tags:  Rick Nelligan, Terps  
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