Men’s Basketball: Maryland attacks boards, crushes Northwestern

Ariel Yong, Reporter

Tuesday night was not the way a team plays after winning its third in-season tournament just two days earlier. And the Wildcats knew that.

“We just didn’t execute the gameplan that we talked about,” senior guard Reggie Hearn said.

The Cats (6-1) took on the Maryland Terrapins (5-1) at Welsh-Ryan Arena in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Although Northwestern won its last four games in the Challenge, its streak came to an end as the Cats fell 57-77 to the Terrapins.

The Cats appeared to take control early on in the game. The NU defense forced four Maryland turnovers in just the first two and a half minutes while the Cats only turned the ball over twice in the entire first half. Maryland went on to commit seven more turnovers and went a mere 1-of-6 from beyond the arc.

Nine minutes into the game, NU achieved what would be its largest lead of the game on a layup by Hearn, which put the Cats up by 3 points. The Terrapin defense challenged the NU guards high and out of the key, and the Cats took full advantage of the large holes underneath the net. Both sophomore guard Dave Sobolewski and senior guard Alex Marcotullio found themselves wide open on back door cuts, which made for easy layups.

However, with just under eight minutes left in the half, Maryland took the lead and would not look back, leading by 8 points, its largest for the half. The Terrapins were perfect from the free throw line and out-rebounded the Cats 27-10.

The Cats were only down by 2 points at halftime but Maryland had the momentum. The Terrapins came out fast and outscored the Cats 13-1.

“They came in here and (it was) pretty much an even game in the first half,” coach Bill Carmody said. “And then (they) really stuck it to us in the second half. We were disappointed.”

The NU switched to a 1-3-1 zone defense and after about eight minutes, center Alex Len picked up his third foul, which sent him to the bench. But the Terrapins did just fine without him as the NU offense fell flat, going 9-of-25 from the field and 3-of-9 from beyond the arc in the second half.

The Cats just couldn’t keep up with the Terrapins, who finished the game with 44 points in the paint. In addition, almost one-third of Maryland’s points were scored by its bench.

“That was fun,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “It was almost a perfect second half for us. Our defense was pretty phenomenal. Our rebounding obviously was pretty phenomenal.”

The Terrapins finished the game with 47 total rebounds, recording a whopping 28 more boards than the Cats. Maryland has proven to be quite the rebounding powerhouse and demolished its previous season average of out-rebounding opponents by 15.2 boards per game.

“We knew exactly what Maryland was going to do this game,” Sobolewski said. “The coaches showed us great film. They told us exactly what they were going to do. We simply just didn’t execute, especially in the second half. You’ll never win when you get outrebounded by 10 or 15 let alone 28 or 30 or whatever it was.”

Carmody attributed the Terrapin’s rebounding success to the Cats’ inability to knock down three pointers – and their eagerness to shoot so many.

“We’ve been struggling a little bit, just trying to get a real, you know, I call it the ‘pulse’ or ‘tempo’ of the game,” Carmody said. “I thought if we ran through our stuff, that we would get some easy baskets. I just thought we were just a little too quick on the trigger. We were taking too many threes too soon, and we weren’t even giving ourselves a chance to get to the offensive boards. We have to be able to play with these guys, especially at home. I think we’re all disappointed and we’ll come back out and work hard and get this thing turned around.”