Maryland jumped out to a hot offensive start last night for the first time in a game this season. They also pressed well enough to force Vermont into 12 first-half turnovers. And yet, the Terps led by just two points at halftime.
One reason was that the Terps allowed 10 first-half turnovers of their own. Another was that Vermont switched to a 2-3 zone that confounded Maryland whenever it was forced to operate out of its half-court offense. A third reason was that, when Vermont managed to break the press, the Terps did not demonstrate the intensity on man-to-man defense that Coach Gary Williams prefers to see.
"I just questioned our pride defensively (at halftime)," Williams said. "You know, we were playing man-to-man in terms of technique the way we wanted to, but our effort wasn’t as good as you have to play against a team like Vermont that has experienced three-point shooters, that has a post man that can pass out of the post. So you have to go hard."
Also, Maryland took just four free throws in the first half, a sign that the Terps were not driving to the basket with much frequency or determination. Williams said that especially in the last five minutes of the first half, his team became passive against Vermont's zone defense, which contributed to the lackluster effort in the paint.
"You know, you have to drive against the zone nowadays," Williams said. "You can’t pass the ball around and expect to make it. You’ve got to get to the free throw line. You just have to do it. We finally did it, and I thought that was a key part of the game, getting to the free throw line."
In the second half, the Terps shot 17 free throws and, for the night, shot 80 percent from the charity stripe. However, Vermont did outscore Maryland in the paint, 32-28.
But as the game wore on, Vermont's shooting ability -- which was outstanding for most of the night -- dropped off. It seemed like right up until the final few minutes of the second half, whenver Maryland would hit a big shot, the Catamounts would answer with one of their own. But then Vermont's shooting touch went cold, a trend that continued into the overtime period.
Vermont shot 57.1 percent (4 for 7) from three-point range in the first half, 30 percent (3 for 10) in the second half and missed all five of its three-point attempts in overtime. From the field, the Catamounts shot 51.9 percent in the second half and just 12.5 percent in the extra period.
"The one thing about pressure defense is it wears you down," Williams said. "If you have a team that shoots a lot of outside shots, usually the last 10 minutes of the game, they might not have their legs. So even though you don’t get steals all the time, your game wears the opponent out. I thought they got a little tired late in the game today."
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