Terps Fall to Duke, 78-67
Maryland certainly put up much more of a fight against the Blue Devils this time around, but Duke pulled away late thanks to some timely three-point shooting and solid play from Gerald Henderson. The Terps were not distraught or downtrodden after this loss, as they have been following previous defeats. And Gary Williams was emphatic in his evaluation of the team in the opening remarks of his postgame press conference.
"We have a damn good basketball team, and we played really hard tonight," Williams said. "We played our hearts out, and we didn't get the win, but you know what? I know what we did out there and how hard we worked to get where we had a chance to win that game."
1) Landon Milbourne. After an enigmatic showing Saturday against North Carolina, Milbourne helped carry the Terps on offense against the Blue Devils. He shot 6 for 8 from teh field and tallied a team-high 19 points. With Greivis Vasquez in foul trouble, Maryland needed someone to take the reins on offense, and Milbourne filled that role.
2) Defensive improvement. The final stats don't necessarily tell the whole story. Yes, Duke shot 42.1 percent from three-point range, as well as a respectable 43.9 percent from the field, but for most of the game, the Blue Devils were making questionable decisions and taking rushed shots. What hurt Maryland was that it allowed Duke numerous second-chance opportunities that kept possessions alive.
3) Mental step forward. Losing to a team by 41 points can do quite a number on its collective psyche. And while the Terps insisted they had put last month's Durham Debacle behind them, the proof remained to be seen. But after gutting out a loss that was not decided until the final minutes and hanging tight despite being without its star offensive performer for a large chunk of the second half, Maryland demonstrated a much improved mental strength, something that should serve it well down the road.
1) Free-throw shooting. Maryland shot 64.0 percent from the charity stripe and missed a handful of shots from the line in the final minutes. Hayes, one of the team's best free throw shooters, mentioned poor free-throw shooting as one of the contributing factors to Maryland not being able to close out the contest.
2) Second chance opportunities. Though Duke struggled to convert them, the Blue Devils accrued numerous second chances throughout the game. And not all of them came on rebounds off missed shots. Adrian Bowie said the Terps inability to collect loose balls also put a strain on their defense.
"It was a definite back-breaker," Bowie said. "We played defense for 30 seconds and then they get the offensive rebound or a loose ball."
3) Foul trouble. For the second straight game, Maryland found itself in foul trouble down the stretch, which forced it into match-up problems. Against North Carolina, the Terps were able to overcome. Tonight, they could not do the same. Vasquez, Mosley and Milbourne all fouled out, and Cliff Tucker had four fouls of his own.
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