Terps Fall To Wake Forest, 65-63
Maryland controlled the game for much of the first half by hounding Wake Forest into a rash of turnovers and just plain out-hustling the Demon Deacons to loose balls and open space. But in the second half, the Terps wore down and could not overcome Wake Forest's daunting interior size.
"We got inside a couple of times, but they blocked everything," Gary Williams said. "Every time we got it in there somebody swatted it away. It’s gonna happen. We’re not the biggest team this year, but, you know, you compete. A couple times down there I thought we could have had the ball defensively where we gave them a second shot and they scored. In a game that close, they’re big plays."
1) Dave Neal. The senior forward had a huge second half for the Terps. During a two-minute span midway through the second half, Neal drained three three-pointers. He finished with a team-high 19 points and six rebounds. His night was nearly complete, with the contest's result being the only disappointment.
"When I got hot there I thought we were definitely going to pull this one out," Neal said. "But Wake Forest, being the No. 10 team in the country, stayed extremely composed. They never quit, and that’s what makes them a great team. They had some huge plays there at the end that kind of kept them going."
2) Greivis Vasquez. What Neal did for the Terps in the second half, Vasquez did for the team in the first. Vasquez scored 11 of his 16 points before the break. Assuming primary ball-handling duties, Vasquez directed a Terps offense that, in the first half, was precise and dynamic. Wake Forest was caught flat-footed on several occassions and often could not keep up with the Terps.
3) Grittiness. This team has it. They don't look pretty. They often don't play pretty. But against the No. 10 team in the nation, the fourth ranked opponent the Terps have played in their past five games, Maryland played with a desire that is admirable, if nothing else.
1) Rebounding. According to Neal, Williams told his players right before tip-off that this area would be a struggle. Wake Forest, with three starters standing 6-foot-9 or taller, could be dominant in the post. Maryland, an undersized unit to say the least, had to withstand the Demon Deacons' force. The Terps did so as long as they could, but in the end, Wake's rebounding edge (50-32 at game's end) keyed its triumph.
"We were undersized and we knew that," Neal said. "Coach Williams said at the beginning of the game, 'It’s going to be a rebounding battle. It’s going to have to be a team effort on the rebounding end.' They did an extremely good job exploiting our weakness. They were relentless on the boards. That’s what they do. They take some tough shots, but they know they’ve got three huge guys coming down the middle of the lane, trying to funnel the ball back into the rim."
2) Crucial second half blocks. This also points to Wake's size advantage, but whether it was Neal or Sean Mosley, the Terps discovered that wandering into the post was not a safe venture in the second half. The Demon Deacons tallied 10 blocks on the night, six in the second half.
3) Second half shooting. Maryland struggled to adapt to Wake's 1-3-1 zone defense. Williams said the team anticipated Wake would use the scheme, but it's difficult to simulate the athleticism of 6-foot-9 forward Al-Farouq Aminu at the top of such a zone during practice. The Terps shot 34.3 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from three-point range after the intermission.
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