The only time the Maryland men’s basketball team didn’t wind up fouling was when coach Mark Turgeon explicitly instructed them to.
Twice in the final minute against Georgetown on Tuesday night, the Terps forced a turnover. The first time, with the Terps down, 73-70, with about 19 seconds left, they executed a double team in the corner and forced a travel. Guard Anthony Cowan knocked down a pair of free throws, cutting the lead to one.
After the teams traded deuces — Georgetown from the foul line and Maryland on a layup from guard Melo Trimble — the Hoyas gave the ball away again. Up, 75-74, with 7.6 seconds left, Georgetown fouled in the only instance and the only player they couldn’t afford to.
The next few sequences were a blur. Trimble hitting both to put Maryland ahead. Georgetown looking to have an open layup and guard Kevin Huerter coming over to swat the ball away.
Then the final whistle sounded, and somehow, the Terps had won, 76-75.
“This is how crazy basketball is,” Turgeon said. “Let’s think about is: I’m yelling foul at the top of my lungs. Foul. We don’t foul on the double team. He dribbles out. I’m yelling foul again, he steps out of bounds. We were very fortunate tonight.”
Maryland ended the game with 32 fouls. Four players were one hand check or illegal screen away from having to sit with five personals.
Midway through the second half, the officials hit Turgeon with a technical foul after he stepped out of the coach’s box. Guard LJ Peak hit the team’s 25th and 26th foul shots to put the Hoyas up, 51-47, their largest lead of the second half to that point. By the game’s end, Turgeon was one of the few Terps to finish with less two fouls.
Georgetown seized control after the referees punished Turgeon, but the fouls on his players — and how the Hoyas capitalized on them — were a bigger factor for much of the game. The Hoyas went 37-for-42 from the charity stripe.
“Maybe that’s what helped me get my technical,” Turgeon said.
The Hoyas’ 33.3 shooting percent carried little weight, as they almost half of their points came with the clock stopped and no one guarding them. The Terps looked on as player after player stepped up to the line and knocked down the freebies.
Forward Damonte Dodd finished with four blocks, but he stood to the side as the Georgetown players converted on their foul looks. He’d been contesting Hoyas players all game when they got into the lane. In those situations, he could only try to grab the rebounds.
Trimble and fellow guard Anthony Cowan watched, too. They couldn’t force turnovers or set up Maryland’s half court offense during the foul stoppages.
Maryland committed 16 turnovers, but the Terps looked more efficient offensively than they did in their season opening win over American. Ball movement led to more open shots, and Maryland knocked those down at a 44.8-percent clip. They drilled seven attempts from behind the arc.
Freshman Justin Jackson hit three of those shots en route to 17 points. But as the Hoyas hit free throw after free throw, it forced Jackson into the responsibility of boxing out.
“They just kept making them and kept making them and kept making them,” Turgeon said, “And that wears on you when you’re sitting on the other bench.”
Trimble, who finished with 22 points, converted seven of his opportunities from the line. But as a team, Maryland (2-0) finished with barely more than half the attempts than the Hoyas (1-1).
Eventually, the Terps had to foul. Trailing by more than one possession in the game’s final moments, they needed to extend the game. This tactic kept Maryland within striking distance.
Then madness ensued, and exactly what appeared to doom Maryland for more than 59 minutes saved them at the end.
“It was a crazy game,” Trimble said. “We just kept fighting.”