Maryland's lack of effort is telling in loss to Virginia

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Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy,Terps,University of Maryland

Terrapins look listless against Cavaliers

It wasn't so much that Maryland lost to Virginia on Sunday at Comcast Center. It was how.

In a season in which the Terrapins have struggled with offensive cohesion, they always could count on effort, rebounding and defense as their constants.

But in losing 80-69 before 16,895, they were beaten to loose balls, surrendered wide-open shots and showed little of the passion that has become their hallmark. For the first time this year, Maryland was outrebounded (34-29). The Terps also yielded 54.2 percent shooting from the floor and 57.9 percent from beyond the arc, both season highs for a Maryland opponent.

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said he looked into the eyes of his players before the game and saw nothing. After winning at Virginia Tech on Thursday night, the Terps didn't arrive back at Comcast Center until 4:17 a.m. There were icy roads in Blacksburg and a wreck on the highway to contend with before Maryland even reached its plane. Virginia played the same night but was at home in Charlottesville and waltzed to a 78-41 victory over Clemson. Three days later, the difference showed.

"I don't want to make excuses, but we haven't been a half a step slow all year," Turgeon said. "Virginia's not the fastest team in the world. They were beating us to loose balls."

Maryland (17-7, 5-6) got energetic work from sophomore Dez Wells (13 points, five rebounds) and freshman Seth Allen (11 points, five assists, five steals), but they didn't get enough help.

"We haven't lost like that," sophomore Nick Faust (eight points, three assists) said. "We felt as though it was just us. We weren't clicking defensively or offensively."

It was a completely different story for Virginia (17-6, 7-3), which is building a compelling case for inclusion in the NCAA tournament.

While junior Joe Harris (22 points) had an efficient afternoon, hitting seven of eight shots, freshman Justin Anderson (17 points, nine rebounds) had a satisfying one. The former Maryland commit, who opted for Virginia after the retirement of former Terps coach Gary Williams, ignored rough treatment from Maryland fans to score 14 points in the first half on his way to his career high. After intermission, sophomore Paul Jesperson (13 points) hit all four of his 3-point attempts.

"It was target practice out there today," Virginia senior Jontel Evans (five points, eight assists) said. "Nobody could miss."

Anderson hit a pair of free throws to give Virginia a 6-5 lead, and after that the Cavaliers never trailed. With 13 minutes left, Harris hit a jumper to give Virginia its biggest lead at 51-37. The Terps retaliated with a 1-3-1 press that forced the Cavaliers out of their preferred pace. Junior Pe'Shon Howard (five points) twice got Maryland to within eight points, but the Terps got no closer until the final minute as Virginia kept hitting crushing 3-pointers and converting at the free throw line (17-for-23).

"I want to give Virginia most of the credit. I want everybody to understand that, but we weren't there today," Turgeon said. "We were just a half-step slow, a little lethargic. You can't be that way against a team playing as well as [Virginia]."

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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