Maryland snapped the Jackets’ three-game winning streak on Saturday by edging out the Jackets 88-86 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
Maryland came out firing against the Jackets, taking a quick 9-0 lead.
“We were not in it [for] the first ten minutes…you cannot go down ten points and expect to win. If we [had] won, it would have been sheer luck,“ said Head Coach Paul Hewitt.
Tech’s defense was lackluster against the Terps. Coming in, Maryland shot just above 45 percent from the field, but managed to shoot an impressive 64 percent in the first half, which was significantly aided by Maryland’s thirteen layups.
“We were playing pretty good defense [in the past few games], but today we were playing very poor defense,“ Hewitt said.
Going into the second half, Tech and Maryland each accounted for 18 from the field and Tech had one more three than Maryland. The difference maker was Maryland’s 12 free-throws compared to Tech’s two, which gave Maryland a nine point lead going into the second.
Tech’s plan going into the game was to exploit Maryland’s lack of depth, which showed as every Maryland starter played at least 30 minutes and the bench only accounted for a total of 13 points.
“We wanted to get their big guys into foul trouble as well as get into the bonus, which we did, but it was too late in the game,“ said junior guard D’Andre Bell.
“There was a stretch in the second half where we wanted the tempo to be as fast as we could [make it]…because [senior forward Maryland Bambale] Osby and his guys were getting tired…but our defense wasn’t able to execute,“ Hewitt said.
When Osby began his five minute stint on the bench at the mid-way point through the second half, the Jackets trailed by six, but when he came back in, both teams had scored five points and the Jackets still trailed.
“[The tempo] was the only reason why we got back in at the end [of the game],“ Hewitt said.
The Jackets were down by three points to Maryland with nine seconds to play. Bell came up with a defensive rebound to give the Jackets a potential tying possession. When senior point guard Matt Causey went for what was a shot on the line to try and tie the game, he was fouled by Osby before the shot and attempted two free throws.
“I heard [Maryland Head] Coach [Gary] Williams yell ‘Foul him! Foul him!,’ but I didn’t realize he was trying to foul me because I couldn’t feel him…if I would have felt him, I would have definitely shot it earlier,“ Causey said.
While Causey made the first free throw, Causey also made the second, which gave Maryland the ball back.
“You try to miss, it goes in; you try to make, it comes out. Nine times out of ten it comes out,“ Causey said.
While the Jackets were able to get within five points of Maryland six different times throughout the game, they never tied nor took the lead in the entire 40 minutes of play.
The Jackets were able to bounce-back on Wednesday, getting a 89-83 victory over Wake Forest up in Winston-Salem, N.C. The win takes the Jackets to 11-10 on the season and an even 4-4 in conference play.
Senior guard Anthony Morrow had a strong game, leading the Jackets in scoring with 23 points. Zach Peacock was able to build off his performance against Maryland and pick up 15 points.
While the Jackets started out with an early 3-0 lead, things cooled-off quickly for the Jackets as the Demon Deacons struck back with a 9-0 run to take the lead by six. The Jackets were not able to regain the lead again in the first half.
Defensive struggles carried over from the Maryland game for the Jackets as Wake shot 53 percent from both the field and behind the arc. The Jackets were also out rebounded 18-12 by the Demon Deacons in the first half.
Throughout the course of the game, fouls by Wake and free throws helped keep the Jackets in the game. Tech entered the bonus only eight minutes into the first-half. The 12 total first half fouls allowed Tech to go 13-16 from the line.
After Wake was able to gain their largest lead of the night at 13, the Jackets were able to turn the corner just before halftime and cut the lead down to eight. The Jackets mounted an impressive 14-0 run in the second half to take the lead from Wake with 11 minutes to play. The improved defense held Wake to 46 percent from two-point range and 36 percent from behind the arc.
The last ten minutes of the game was a back-and-forth battle between the Jackets and the Deacons, which saw six lead changes and four ties.
The Jackets were able to clinch the game in the last minute with four free throws from Morrow and one from senior forward Jeremis Smith.
The Jackets continue on the road Saturday when they travel up to Storrs, Conn. to take on UConn. Tip-off is slated for 4:00 p.m. It is their last nonconference game of the season.