Everything was on track for Maryland to match its program-record winning streak. Then Okaro White happened.
Scoring 16 points in the final 8:45, the 6-foot-8 junior took over the game, propelling Florida State to a 65-62 victory that extinguished the Terrapins’ 13-game winning streak before 14,157 at Comcast Center.
Maryland led by as many as 12 points early in the second half, but from then on Florida State (10-5, 2-0) dominated inside. After intermission, the Seminoles outrebounded the Terps 28-16 and blocked nine shots, with White (20 points, nine rebounds, six blocks) doing the bulk of the work.
“In the end they had the best player,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “They got offensive rebound after offensive rebounds. Most of those were him.”
Down 59-51 with a minute left, Maryland (13-2, 1-1) made a furious rally as sophomore Alex Len (15 points, 10 rebounds) dunked, sophomore Nick Faust (14 points, four rebounds) rained a 3-pointer and freshman Seth Allen (13 points) hit a 3-pointer and drove the lane for a 3-point-play.
But with a chance to win it in the final seconds and the Terps down 64-62, the 6-1 Allen pulled up at the top of the key for a 3-pointer with two seconds left. It was blocked by 6-5 senior Michael Snaer, the final indignity on a night when the Seminoles finished with 13 blocked shots, including four in the second half by freshman Boris Bojanovsky.
“On that last play, Coach called a ball screen at the top for me,” Allen said. “It was a little low. It was supposed to be set a little higher. I tried to go left, but their big guy showed, so I cut back right, and then I pulled up and Snaer was there to make a great play.”
At the time, the Terps needed only two to tie, which made it a bit of a strange shot.
“I wanted to attack, but I didn’t feel like I had enough time. I probably did,” Allen said. “I’m just going to learn from this mistake. I’m young, a freshman. I have a lot more games to play. In the future, if I ever get an opportunity like that, I plan on driving to the basket to try to get fouled or make a layup.”
There were many what-ifs for Maryland, which dominated the boards in the first half, 26-11 and built a double-digit lead. But the Terps could have put it away by taking better care of the ball. Their 11 turnovers in the half kept the Seminoles within striking distance.
“I think when we were up 10 or 11 in the first half, it should have been 15 or 16. We were missing wide open shots and throwing the ball out of bounds,” Turgeon said. “We had a lot of guys not make good decisions tonight. Give them credit. This is the first time we have seen that kind of defense for 40 minutes. We didn’t handle it well.”
Maryland handled it even worse in the second half, going scoreless in a span of 7:53, allowing FSU to score 11 straight points, the last four by White. During the critical stages of the second half, White scored 15 straight for the Seminoles.
“He’s a real athletic player. We didn’t box him out like three times,” Len said. “He had like three or four offensive rebounds in a row. He hurt us a lot.”
On this night, even when the Terps boxed out, they had no answer for White. In the first half, he soared over a Maryland player to get a clean rebound even though he was out of position. His short baseline jumper off the play was an awe-inspiring omen of what was to come.
“We didn’t play well, but give them a lot of credit why we didn’t play well,” Turgeon said. “We were never in sync. We panicked offensively. We panicked as players and as a coaching staff a little bit. We couldn’t figure it out. We kept subbing in guys and different things. We will watch the film and learn from it.”
Notes » Maryland was attempting to match the 14-game winning streak of the 1931-32 Terps. The last game of that run was a 24-20 victory over St. John’s of Annapolis. … Terps point guard Pe’Shon Howard (24 minutes, zero points, three turnovers, one assist) struggled, along with guard Dez Wells (five turnovers, five points), who hit two of nine shots, and guard Logan Aronhalt, who made one of six. … The Terps finished with 18 turnovers, including five by Allen. … Maryland will try to rebound Sunday night at Miami (10-3, 1-0).