VILLANOVA, Pa. — After a winless weekend for Maryland where the Terps shot 36.8 percent from the field and 23.9 percent from three, Kevin Willard said he wasn’t worried about his team while acknowledging that others might be.
The Terps certainly didn’t ease any of those worries against Villanova, posting their lowest score since a 38-point outing in February of 1982.
Maryland lost to the Wildcats, 57-40, on the road Friday night in the Gavitt Games. It’s the third consecutive loss for the Terps, who shot 12-for-50 from the field and 5-for-26 from three in a historically poor offensive showing.
“They got after us, they were coming off of a tough loss and really played well, and we just didn’t respond,” Willard said. “I gotta come up with something quickly. … The offensive struggles are on me.”
The game wasn’t lopsided in stats that don’t relate to shooting — while Villanova recorded seven more rebounds, Maryland grabbed more offensive rebounds. The Terps had fewer turnovers and more assists, steals and blocks. But the Terps could never remove the lid from the basket
Villanova got off to a quick start, making its first four shots from the floor to grab a 13-2 lead. Maryland never erased that deficit.
Even when the Terps found some success on the offensive end, they couldn’t string it into runs. Both of Maryland’s first two 3-pointers were followed by triples from Villanova on the ensuing possessions.
The Wildcats built up a 20-point lead with over six minutes left in the first half. They made 12 of their first 16 shots while the Terps were a measly 3-for-16. Maryland entered halftime trailing 39-15 and shot 4-for-27 from the field in the opening half. No Terp made multiple shots in the first 20 minutes.
While Maryland’s second-half defense improved, holding Villanova to 18 points on 26.3 percent shooting, its offensive remained stagnant. The Terps shot 34.8 percent in the second half in one of their worst offensive showings in program history.
Julian Reese was Maryland’s lone double-digit scorer but did so on just 2-for-8 shooting. Jahmir Young was second with nine points but on an inefficient 3-for-10 from the floor with four turnovers.
Freshman Jamie Kaiser Jr. went scoreless in his first career start while fellow first-year DeShawn Harris-Smith was only able to tally two points on 1-of-6 shooting.
“We’ve definitely got to do a better job getting shots for our teammates,” Harris-Smith said. “I gotta get back to get back to the paint to get open shots for teammates and stuff like that, we just got to get more fluid on offense. We got a lot of one-on-one basketball.”
While Willard reiterated confidence in Kaiser, the coach said he’s been “searching” and “failing” to find a fifth starter to trot out alongside Harris-Smith, Reese, Young and Donta Scott. Willard put Indiana transfer Jordan Geronimo in that spot twice and sophomore Noah Batchelor once before starting Kaiser for the first time Friday.
Friday was an opportunity to erase the concern that sprouted during Maryland’s winless weekend in Asheville. Now, another drubbing only adds to the early-season frustrations. The Terps will look to end their three-game losing skid Tuesday in a bout with UMBC.
“We don’t have a whole lot of confidence right now to be perfectly honest with you, but we’ll get there,” Willard said. “… I just think we have to get in some sort of rhythm and we haven’t had it.”