No. 5 Maryland men’s lacrosse’s offense stagnated in its 11-6 win over Rutgers. The unit lacked rhythm in the first and third quarters, exhibiting an inability to secure meaningful possessions.

The second and fourth quarters were different. The Terps scored five and four goals, respectively. Their decisiveness on offense allowed them to take aggressive shots with little hesitation.

Maryland’s offensive discrepancies were evident on Saturday. The unit lacked consistency.

“We’re trying to figure that out ourselves,” Daniel Kelly said.

The first period’s lackluster offense started from the opening possession.

All of the passes went around the exterior of Rutgers’ defense — no Terp got open close to the goal. Poor spacing resulted in multiple defenders around the cage for almost the entire possession. Maryland suffered a shot clock violation.

[No. 5 Maryland men’s lacrosse rides strong defensive performance to 11-6 win over Rutgers]

The Terps didn’t register a shot in the first seven minutes. Their lone goal in the first quarter came when Kelly spaced himself to an open spot near the cage.

“I think for us, spacing is huge,” Kelly said. “At times we’re not spaced properly and it makes it hard. When we get our spacing down, we seem to be clicking.”

Many of Maryland’s early looks were contested.

Braden Erksa forced an attempt with the shot clock dwindling near the eight-minute mark, but contact from behind and a poor angle allowed for an easy Cardin Stoller save. Eric Spanos’ second shot was similar — a tough angle near the side of the cage limited the opening.

The Terps’ offense confronted the same fate in the third quarter. They recorded only four shots to four turnovers. Spanos’ look marked a desperate attempt to avoid a shot clock violation and another empty possession.

Proper spacing opened up Maryland’s offense for its only goal of the period. Kelly spotted an opening in the interior of Rutgers’ defense as the offense spread itself around. The senior cut toward the cage, immediately firing a shot into the net off a Ryan Siracusa feed.

Spacing was key for the Terps in their improved second and fourth quarters.

Kelly ran past a defender and fired a shot with a clean line of sight to score his second goal of the game. Erksa’s goal was a rebound shot off a look near the cage. Jack Koras cut with the defense spread around to give Maryland its fifth score of the second frame.

[Defensive excellence has kept Maryland men’s lacrosse afloat in Big Ten play]

Zach Whittier ran toward an undefended spot near the cage for his lone score of the night and the Terps’ penultimate goal of the game. Siracusa waited in an opening in the Scarlet Knights’ defense for Maryland’s first goal of the final period.

Luke Wierman struck just three seconds after Siracusa’s score. The graduate student won the faceoff and immediately charged to the cage, firing an emphatic shot.

“It was so hard to score, getting two in a row, I think it energized us,” coach John Tillman said.

Maryland tallied its second-fewest shots, but ended the night with its second-best shot percentage in any game this season. Its offensive efficiency, measured by the number of goals scored in a game divided by the number of possessions, was less than 30 percent, according to Lacrosse Reference.

Inconsistency has been a problem for the Terps all year. The offense’s efficiency has eclipsed 30 percent just four times. That’s occurred once in back-to-back contests.

Maryland’s offensive performance against Rutgers was a microcosm of the season. There’s been little regularity from the unit. Similar shaky production last year resulted in the Terps’ earliest departure from the NCAA Tournament since 2013.