UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Maryland men’s basketball team’s offensive woes started in the final stretch of Saturday’s one-point loss against No. 16 Purdue. Up three with about eight minutes left, the Terps’ remaining points came from the foul line. They missed their final seven shots.
At Monday’s practice, guard Kevin Huerter said the Terps were “terrible offensively,” a factor in No. 21 Maryland’s 70-64 loss at Penn State on Tuesday night. After winning their first nine games away from Xfinity Center, the Terps’ delivered perhaps their worst offensive performance of the season at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Here’s the breakdown of Maryland’s offensive slump in Happy Valley.
Field goal shooting: 33.9 percent; Season average: 44.7 percent
Maryland couldn’t draw fouls and get to the free throw line, so points came at a premium Tuesday night. The Terps made 20 of 59 field goal attempts, their lowest shooting percentage so far.
In the first half, guard Melo Trimble and a pair of Terps forwards were the team’s best offense. Trimble scored eight points in the first seven minutes and entered the break with 11 points on 4 of 7 shooting. Michal Cekovsky and Ivan Bender, meanwhile, converted at the rim and drew shooting fouls, combining for 11 points.
The production helped Maryland stay within six at halftime despite its three freshmen combining to go 2-for-11 in the period.
The failed 3-pointers and missed layups continued after intermission, as Maryland needed more than six minutes for its first field goal.The drought allowed Penn State to open up a double-digit lead the the Terps whittled to four but couldn’t overcome.
Three-point shooting: 26.9 percent; Season average: 36.3 percent
Maryland had swished long balls at an efficient rate in recent games, but their production plummeted against the Nittany Lions.
After struggling from trey in nonconference play, the Terps entered Tuesday as the third-best team from distance in the Big Ten slate (39.3 percent).
Their success stemmed from Jackson (46.4 percent) and Huerter (44.8 percent), whose combined 10-for-12 three-point mark lifted Maryland to a road win over Minnesota on Jan. 28. Even guard Jared Nickens, who’s slump had knocked him out of the rotation at times, found his long-range stroke against conference opponents. In limited attempts, he entered Tuesday making 63.2 percent of his triples.
Maryland, though, knocked down seven of their 26 long balls against Penn State for one of its lowest percentages of the year. Trimble and Huerter each had one of the team’s 12 first-half attempts. Jackson and Nickens missed two apiece during that span.
With about five minutes remaining, it appeared long-range shots could close the gap. Huerter’s three cut Penn State’s lead to 59-51 at the 5:22 mark. Jackson’s deep ball moments later pulled his team within seven. Huerter missed his attempt on the Terps’ next possession, but Anthony Cowan grabbed the rebound and found guard Jaylen Brantley for a trey that cut the deficit to 62-58.
Still, the Terps missed their last four long balls to close a frustrating offensive outing.
Free throw shooting: 63 percent; Season average: 70.5 percent
Turgeon has critiqued the team’s season-long free throw struggles, but his words failed to improve the charity stripe production against Penn State. The Terps missed 10 of 27 free throws, which was detrimental when their shots from the field didn’t fall, either.
The referees were quick to blow their whistles. In the first half, Penn State shot 16 freebies while the Terps attempted 10, making seven.
The Terps continued the aggression as they entered the bonus less than six minutes left in the first. The team finished with 17 foul shots in the second period, but Maryland only made 58.8 percent as their second consecutive defeat loomed.