Sunday, February 20, 2011

Opportunity Lost

Following Thursday's big win over the Blue Devils, Maryland arrived in Tallahassee with a very real opportunity to knock off its second top-of-the-conference team in the span of just 4 days. But today, somewhere between the first 5 minutes or so of the first half and the last 5 minutes or so of the second half, the Terps lost their way (as well as the opportunity), and fell to #12/15-ranked FSU, 72-66.

In the other 30 minutes (give or take some), Maryland was outplayed by the 'Noles. The Terps missed lay-ups, missed free throws, shot poorly from beyond the arc, turned the ball over at inopportune times, and got very little scoring help (only 7 points) from their usually reliable bench. Missed opportunities all over.

The Seminoles didn't earn a higher ranking, and they didn't win 9 of their 11 ACC contests before today, without being a very good and very talented team. No question that some of Maryland's missed chances have to be credited to the tough play of FSU. But for quite a few more of those missed chances, the Terps have only themselves to blame. They know, as do their fans who watched the game (in high-def) on ESPN2, that Maryland had a good opportunity to pull off the upset . . . but didn't.

For those readers who may not have seen today's game, here's a brief synopsis: Maryland raced out to an early lead, in part due to very poor shooting by FSU. The 'Noles took the lead with about 7-1/2 minutes left in the first half (22-24), led the Terps by 8 at the break (28-36), and then stretched their lead to 12 in the final period, before Maryland put on a charge in the late-going, closing the gap to as little as 4 points. But no closer . . . too little, too late.

Super frosh and workhorse Alyssa Thomas led all scorers in the losing effort, with a career-high 26 points (and played all but 1 minute of the game). Lynetta Kizer (battling the flu according to the ESPN announcers) played only 25 minutes, but still managed to notch another double-double, with 17 points and 10 boards.

Unfortunately, the other noteworthy stats help explain today's loss. The Terps, mediocre all season from the free throw line, were even worse than mediocre today, hitting only 45.8% (11 of 24), while FSU succeeded on 22 of 31 attempts from the charity stripe (71%). Maryland also turned the ball over 16 times, and made only 3 of 13 three-pointers (23.1%).

With only two games left in the regular season, Maryland missed a major opportunity today to move up in the conference standings, and possibly secure a bye in the first round of play at Greensboro. It may still be possible to get a bye (we confess that we haven't done the math), but it's certainly less probable after today's loss.

In any event, a win today would've given this young team real momentum heading into the final days of the regular season and then the ACC Tournament. But that opportunity was lost. They can restart their Mo by beating Virginia Tech at Comcast on Thursday at 7:30 PM (Senior-less night) before they hit the road for a rematch in Boston against the Eagles, who beat them at Comcast earlier this season.

Go Terps . . . Beat the Hokies!


At 7:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, the Terps and their poor free throw shooting. It kills us....


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