Maryland men’s basketball missed shots and Davidson made them. The Terps were mediocre on both ends throughout Asheville’s championship opener, shooting 35.1 percent from the field, including 5 of 23 from three. Meanwhile, Davidson shot 42.9%, including eight of 15 shots from distance.
Despite a late Maryland comeback in the final three minutes, Donta Scott missed a defensive assignment, allowing Davidson guard Bobby Durkin to make the go-ahead three — his fourth of the game — with 9.4 seconds left. the end.
Maryland was unable to score on the ensuing possession and fell to the Wildcats, 64-61. He will face the loser of Clemson and UAB in the third-place game on Sunday.
Maryland head coach Kevin Willard told reporters before the season that his team could be in for a slow start to the season. He didn’t mention that Maryland would look completely lost on offense in its second game.
There were widespread concerns after the Terps’ opening win over Mount St. Mary’s, particularly about whether they would be able to shoot the ball at a sustainable rate. Through two games, the Terps played with an alarming lack of offensive fluidity.
Willard consistently expressed his desire to force offense through forward Julian Reese, but that strategy didn’t work in the first half. Reese dominated in the paint with six points and five rebounds, but the rest of the team shot 9 of 28 in the period.
Davidson’s defense often forced Reese to find the open man. But the Terps made a dreadful 3 of 15 from three in the first half, giving the Wildcats points in transition.
The Terps relied on isolation plays and transition breaks for their buckets. Finding himself down by as many as eight midway through the half, Jahmir Young made key plays to keep the game close.
It wasn’t a flawless defensive performance either, with Maryland giving Davidson several open looks after defensive breakdowns. Davidson took the lead with a 10-0 run just before the midpoint of the first half.
Despite Maryland’s sloppiness and sheer inability to maintain a clear offensive possession – evidenced by its seven turnovers and Davidson’s seven offensive rebounds – the Terps found themselves trailing by just one point at halftime, 33-32.
The Wildcats took a nine-point advantage a few minutes into the half, and Maryland needed a spark in the worst way. Jordan Geronimo, who had looked uncomfortable throughout the game, was brought back into play at center. Down low, his athleticism contributed to a Davidson drought.
Although Maryland didn’t come back immediately, it slowly closed in, eventually regaining possession with just under nine minutes remaining.
Despite this, a common theme throughout the contest was hurting the Terps. Every time Maryland gained momentum, Davidson found an open three-point shot and drained it.
It looked bleak at times for the Terps afterward, but they locked in defensively, allowing Young and Reese to bring Maryland back. The duo combined for 18 of Maryland’s 29 points in the second half, but Reese missed three free throws down the stretch.
Maryland’s offensive woes cost it the game. He didn’t score his 50th point until less than four minutes remained. It was the start of a late run that brought the Terps closer, but Davidson was the better team Friday.
Three things to know
1. Maryland couldn’t shoot or defend the three. In two games, the Terps have failed to make a 3-pointer. Yet, as was the case a season ago, they still shoot at them frequently.
On the other side of the ball, Davidson was constantly drawing players into the paint and finding the open man on the perimeter.
2. The Terps lacked rhythm on offense. Maryland’s ball handlers often looked confused when in the half court, with very few possessions leading to a clean look. Fortunately for the Terps, they have four months to find a way to score consistently.
3. A shortened bench. Willard chose in the last game to send 10 players in the first six minutes. On Friday, only eight players saw the field.