Playing its third game in five days, Maryland looked every bit like a tired team for the first 25 minutes against an inferior NC State team on Wednesday night.
Poor shooting, turnovers, and sloppy defense positioned the Terps firmly on the ropes against the worst team in the Atlantic Coast Conference. It had the potential to be one of those unacceptable losses Maryland has suffered on occasion over the last few seasons.
But thanks to some unlikely contributions and a rejuvenated defense, Maryland awoke in the game’s final 15 minutes to capture a 67-58 win at NC State on Wednesday night.
While senior Greivis Vasquez anchored the comeback, scoring 10 of Maryland’s final 17 points en route to a 26-point evening, the problem was finding offense from the usual suspects. Normally reliable scorers, Landon Milbourne, Eric Hayes, and Sean Mosley combined for just 12 points on 5-for-22 shooting.
The Terps (18-7, 8-3 ACC) instead turned to two others, a sensational freshman transforming into a force before our very eyes and a reserve guard having the most disappointing season of any player on the roster, for critical scoring to stave off defeat and pull into a second-place tie with Virginia Tech in the ACC.
Jordan Williams may not overwhelm audiences with highlight-reel dunks, but his mature work inside the paint continues to be the biggest reason for the Terps’ resurgence this season. The freshman was outstanding against the Wolfpack, matching a career-high 19 points and snatching 11 rebounds to control the low post in the second half.
Starting at the 9:00 mark of the second half, Williams scored seven points in a four-minute span that would help swing the game from a one-point Wolfpack lead to a 58-51 Maryland advantage after sinking a free throw with 5:03 remaining.
Though only averaging 8.4 points per game entering Wednesday night, Williams has now reached double-digit scoring in four of the last six games. The big man continues to grow more confident in the half-court offense and has clearly established himself as one of the top freshmen in the ACC.
Before Williams’ spurt, Maryland struggled to stay in the game and desperately needed outside shooting with Hayes being a non-factor. Adrian Bowie—shooting just 24 percent from 3-point range and struggling mightily all season—answered the call with two of the biggest shots of the game—and his entire season.
His 3-pointer with 11:16 remaining cut the deficit to one, the closest the Terps had been since a 17-17 tie. A few moments later, with NC State threatening to regain momentum by pushing the lead back to six, Bowie connected from behind the arc again, igniting a 16-2 run from which the Wolfpack never recovered.
For Bowie, it’s arguably the highlight of a difficult junior campaign. The Monstrose Christian product who started 28 games last season rose to the occasion on a night when little was working from the perimeter.
Of course, the Terps’ comeback efforts were aided by frigid shooting from their opponent as NC State managed just one field goal and seven points in the final 9:52 of the game. Credit the Maryland defense, but it certainly helped that the Wolfpack completely crumbled after relinquishing a 12-point lead.
It wasn’t a pretty win, and concerns still remain such as the disappearance of Sean Mosley in the offense. The Baltimore sophomore has now failed to reach double digits in his last six games and has only reached the mark twice in ACC play.
Wednesday’s effort won’t beat many teams, but the Terps did exactly what they needed to do to pull out the road win despite not playing their best basketball.
Even the best teams have clunkers, but the mark of a quality team is being able to find production from role players when some of your starters aren’t performing.
It’s the difference between an ugly win and an unacceptable loss.
Yes, Maryland still lacks that sparkling win that opens the eyes of the rest of the country, but the Terps continue to beat the teams they’re supposed to beat.
Even if they’re not at their best.
Check out the final stats here and the live blog below.
10:57 p.m. — It wasn’t pretty or even much fun, but Vasquez and Williams lead the Terps to a 67-58 victory in Raleigh.
I’ll take it, and I’m sure you will too.
Back soon with the post-game wrap.
10:55 p.m. — Mays hits a triple to cut the deficit to seven with 1:03 remaining. Too little, too late for the Wolfpack.
When you look how poorly Sidney Lowe’s team has played in the second half, you understand how alarming it was for the Terps to be down by as many as 12.
10:53 p.m. — You think Vasquez is feeling it just a little bit right now? Coast-to-coast.
And a great defensive play by Mosley gives the Terps the ball with an eight-point lead and two minutes to go. Have to be feeling good about this one considering how poor the first 25 minutes were.
10:50 p.m. — 21 points and six dimes for Vasquez. Despite a lull late in the first half, he’s been everything you need from your leader in a tight game in which you’re not playing well.
10:47 p.m. — We’ve reached our final media timeout of the night with the Terps feeling much better about themselves and holding a 58-51 lead.
10:45 p.m. — It’s all coming together for the Terps as the defensive intensity is there, and NC State cannot BUY a bucket.
I think Herb Sendek was still at State the last time the Pack scored a bucket.
10:40 p.m. — We saw a similar comeback to tonight’s at Clemson earlier in the year. The Terps did not, however, have enough steam to hold on at Littlejohn.
The comeback came right around at the same time as tonight’s too.
10:37 p.m. — Who else but Vasquez? It’s what you’ve come to expect from the brilliant senior.
Jordan Williams having a huge second half for the Terps as NC State is just crumbling and now trails by four.
10:34 p.m. — Did Adrian Bowie invest in some new shooting tapes? You know you’re desperate when you’re counting on him for long-range shooting.
10:31 p.m. — Horner sticks the 3-ball, giving him 17 points. That one hurts.
He’s absolutely killing the Terps tonight.
10:28 p.m. — Adrian Bowie. Just HUGE!
10:25 p.m. — Nice runner by Vasquez to give him 16 points. The Terps have cut it to six, and you have to like the improved energy on the defensive end.
However, can anyone do anything offensively with Vasquez getting a breather?
10:21 p.m. — Jordan Williams is clearly struggling from the line tonight, but the potential is there to be a good free throw shooter. He has a good stroke, but his confidence is lacking big-time.
Did he just bank one in? Seriously?
10:17 p.m. — Hey, Dennis Horner is standing underneath the basket!
Guess they didn’t hear me.
We’ve seen the Terps shoot poorly on the road before, but the lack of energy on the defensive end of the floor is quite apparent.
10:14 p.m. — If the first two minutes of the second half is any indication, this is going to be a LONG night.
As I type that, Vasquez throws up a prayer of a 3-point attempt and it goes in. Maybe that will get them going.
10:10 p.m. — The Terps are now 1-for-6 from beyond the arc tonight. Typical road shooting woes.
10:08 p.m. — The Terps force the turnover on State’s first possession but turn it over themselves on the other end.
It’s critical for Maryland to start out strong if a comeback is in the cards.
10:05 p.m. — Maryland is 1-7 when trailing at the half this season and 1-3 in the ACC. The Terps’ comeback from a halftime deficit came at Florida State.
9:52 p.m. — We’ve thankfully reached the end of the first half. Maryland trails NC State, 37-27.
Listless. Uninspiring. Comatose.
Which adjective do you prefer?
9:49 p.m. — I’m at a loss for words right now. I really am.
Credit NC State, but it’s not like the Pack is playing out of their minds either.
9:46 p.m. — Fatigue is definitely playing a part in this one, but the effort just hasn’t been there tonight. Not playing smart basketball.
The Terps need to keep this one to a single-digit deficit before the intermission.
9:44 p.m. — Anyone ever see Philip Seymour Hoffman play basketball in Along Came Polly? Maryland’s shooting closely resembles his right now.
9:40 p.m. — Is Maryland TRYING to miss these easy shots?
9:36 p.m. — Maryland is just sleepwalking right now. A 9-0 run gives the Wolfpack a 24-17 lead before Vasquez ends the scoring drought.
This is looking like one of those games where Vasquez might have to carry the Terps.
9:32 p.m. — Williams with another miss at the basket. He’s got to finish some of those opportunities.
Cliff Tucker certainly won’t earn more minutes with two shot attempts like what we just saw.
Maryland looking lethargic tonight, and two turnovers and NC State field goals will confirm that theory.
9:27 p.m. — Scott Wood almost shattered the backboard with that shot attempt. Easy, big fella.
Another early entry into the game for James Padgett, as it appears Gary Williams is more confident in going with the frontcourt of Dino Gregory and the frosh.
9:25 p.m. — Adrian Bowie is in the game and just attempted a 20-footer. Not exactly what you want.
In addition to Vasquez, Milbourne is off to a quick start too as we reach the second media timeout with Maryland leading the Wolfpack by two.
9:22 p.m. — You think Vasquez is in the zone again?
Meanwhile, the Terps have given up second-chance points on two straight possessions. Can’t let that happen.
9:19 p.m. — Maryland continues to show the press, and State is definitely having some issues with it, having to call a timeout a couple possessions ago and nearly turning it over in the backcourt.
9:14 p.m. — Great ball movement by the Terps on that last possession as Vasquez finds Williams in the paint, but the big man is fouled and will go to the line for two.
We’re tied 7-7 with 15:54 remaining at the first media timeout.
9:11 p.m. — Vasquez with the early triple. Nice start from the perimeter for the Terps. Maryland’s road shooting woes are well-documented (see below).
Degand takes advantage of some confusion and takes it to the bucket.
9:09 p.m. — Nice vision up-court by Vasquez to find Milbourne, and the Terps have the early 2-0 lead after a couple empty possessions from each side.
Very important to start fast in this one.
9:07 p.m. — One last friendly reminder for the tip: the start of tonight’s game can only be seen on Comcast SportsNet-Plus due to that group of players wearing Wizards jerseys. Who are they?
Comcast SportsNet will pick up the action in progress immediately after the Wizards game.
9:04 p.m. — Here are tonight’s starters:
G Eric Hayes
G Greivis Vasquez
G Sean Mosley
F Landon Milbourne
F Jordan Williams
G Javier Gonzalez
G Farnold Degand
F Scott Wood
F Tracy Smith
F Dennis Horner
8:45 p.m. — Good evening from the Jones headquarters as we await the start of Maryland-NC State at 9:00 p.m. The Terps (17-7, 7-3 ACC) will play their third game in five days by traveling to Raleigh to take on the last-place Wolfpack (14-12, 2-9 ACC) at the RBC Center.
Maryland rebounded from its disappointing loss at Duke against Virginia on Monday night, breezing to a 85-66 win at Comcast Center. Greivis Vasquez played one of the finest games of his career in a 30-point effort, 25 of those coming in the first half against the Cavaliers.
This one certainly looks like a mismatch on paper, but the Terps must come out focused to fight off fatigue due to the aforementioned stretch. In the teams’ first meeting on Jan. 23, the Wolfpack managed to hang around in the first half before getting blown out by the Terps after the intermission and falling 88-64 in Gary Williams’ 1,000 career game.
NC State has lost its last six conference games—most recently to lowly North Carolina (I love saying that). During the stretch, State’s only win has come against lowly independent North Carolina Central. In fact, the Terps were responsible in starting the losing streak for the Wolfpack after Sidney Lowe’s team had upset Duke on Jan. 20 before taking on the Terps in College Park.
With only five games remaining on its conference schedule, the Wolfpack is clearly in desperation mode as its season continues to spiral downward over the last four weeks. Forward Tracy Smith has been the Pack’s most consistent player, scoring 17.5 points per game and grabbing just over eight rebounds a contest.
Despite the success the Terps have enjoyed in conference play, their shooting woes away from Comcast Center continue to be a concern with postseason play and neutral-court sights fast approaching. In their five conference road games, Maryland has shot 32.8 percent (22-67) from beyond the arc. It looks even worse when you examine the last three road contests against Clemson, Florida State, and Duke where the Terps have shot a wretched 18.9 percent (7-37) from the 3-point line.
While it’s not surprising for a team to struggle with its shooting on the road, in contrast, Maryland has made 49.3 percent of its shots (36-73) in five conference games at Comcast. Quite the difference.
In looking at the coaching matchup, to say Williams has Lowe’s number would be an understatement as the Terps are 6-0 against the Wolfpack since Lowe took over the program in 2007.
With Maryland having the far superior backcourt and the better-dressed coach—be sure to shield your eyes when the camera shifts to Lowe’s scarlet jacket—you wouldn’t think the Terps will have TOO much difficulty in this one, even being on the road.
Tonight’s game can be seen on Comcast SportsNet-Plus at 9:00 p.m. Keep in mind, with the Wizards-Timberwolves game currently being played, Comcast SportsNet will join the Maryland game in progress immediately following the happenings at the Verizon Center.
And yes, I know what you’re thinking. “Who even plays for the Wizards these days, and why are we being subjected to that?” Yes, I agree, so hopefully you’ll stay right here throughout the evening.
As always, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) as Terps aficionado Glenn Clark and other WNST personalities will be chiming in with their thoughts throughout the night.