It’s becoming second nature for Maryland men’s basketball to be behind at halftime.
Coach Mark Turgeon’s squad has been down at the half in five of their seven games this season and managed to come back after three of those slow first halves for a win. The Terps’ game against Richmond at the Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas championship was no exception to Maryland’s rally pattern.
But multiple recoveries against Louisville were not enough to secure a tournament trophy win for the Terps.
In its first half against the Spiders in the tournament’s semifinals, Maryland struggled to generate offense — it finished the opening half shooting 35.5 percent from the field and just 30 percent from beyond the arc.
But when the second half hit, the Terps started hitting shots, nearly doubling their point production, while shooting 65.4 percent from the field in the second frame.
“The effort that our guys played within the second half, really the last two and a half minutes of the first half, got us back in the game, and then the start of the second half was just terrific,” Turgeon said. “The guys battled, we got smarter defensively.”
This was a typical resurgence for Maryland. Its field goal shooting improved in the second half against Vermont and Richmond, and they shot better from three in the second half of each comeback win.
Turgeon’s squad practiced offense for three days to avoid the first-half lull the Terps have come to know. But they can’t seem to avoid slow openings in many of their games, and Turgeon would prefer to see his team dominate from the opening tip.
“I’d rather be up at halftime and play well in the second half and not make it so close,” Turgeon said. “But it’s who we are right now.”
Even though Maryland’s sluggish starts have been frequent, it has shown the effort and capacity to recover and win those games — but the Terps couldn’t deliver against the Cardinals.
After clawing back from an eight-point deficit in the second half, Donta Scott tied the game for Maryland with 11:15 left. The Terps eventually took a lead they held for just under five minutes until Louisville tied the game and took another lead.
Maryland tied the game again minutes later, but it was never able to get back ahead. The Terps came back, but they didn’t finish the job — this time, as a result of severe rebounding issues.
The Cardinals pulled down 51 rebounds. Maryland only got 25.
“It’s hard to win games when you get out-rebounded like that,” guard Fatts Russell said. “But it says a lot about us and our resiliency to keep the game close with that dramatic of an out-rebound.”
Louisville’s high number of rebounds allowed them to drop 16 second-chance points and ripped away any chance the Terps had for a comeback win.
Despite not securing a come-from-behind victory every time, Maryland’s effort and desire to win are tangible. Hakim Hart, who played a significant part in the Terps’ victory against Richmond, believes his team’s ability to come back and win after tough starts shows fight and strength.
While Turgeon wants to see his players’ best efforts from the jump, he sees the strength in a recovery win.
“It was a great second-half comeback. The guys showed me a lot about themselves tonight,” Turgeon said after his team’s victory over Richmond. “The effort that they played with in the second half was just terrific. And I know watching at home probably doesn’t really tell you the story … and how great it was.”