Maryland Mashes Virginia

Assane Sene grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds.

What’s cooler than being cool? Ice cold.

No Virginia didn’t play those Outkast lyrics throughout the John Paul Jones Arena on Thursday night, but it could have. After all, there’s no other way to describe the Hoos’ shooting performance against Maryland in a 66-42 ACC loss. 33.3% field goal shooting. 23.5% 3-point shooting. 46.2% free throw shooting.

Yes, it was as bad as that sounds.

“We work all the time. We always say look are we getting quality shots, are we getting to the lane and the way Coach Williams played us, it made it difficult,” UVa coach Tony Bennett said. “We got the ball in to the paint, we got some at the rim, some draw and kicks, and some of the decisions were poor, but some of the shots were there. I’ll watch the film as always and maybe I’ll retract that, but I think some of the looks were there. They’re the looks we’ve gotten. You’ve got to shoot them and we’ve got to make them and when you don’t, it puts pressure [on you].”

“Our defense was really key for us tonight. Tonight I think we did a good job of practicing to get ready and then following the game plan once we were in the game,” Terp coach Gary Williams said. “Virginia’s a really good 3-point shooting team; they usually have got four guys out there that can shoot 3’s. We were really looking to take them off the 3-point line, and they didn’t get a lot of looks. That’s what we tried to do going into the game.”

The Cavaliers struggled less than one week after scorching Georgia Tech with a hot shooting performance (50.0% overall, 66.7% 3-pointers) as a better prepared Maryland team with a better defensive effort put the clamps on the hosts’ offense. The Terps pushed out to the 3-point line to reduce the number of clean looks, sagged off of Jontel Evans heavily, helped off of Assane Sene , and generally made even driving lines difficult for the other Hoos.

KT Harrell and the Hoos struggled to make baskets against the Terps.

Still, that game plan isn’t something new. The difference is just how well the visitors executed it this time around. When UVa couldn’t make free throws in the first half or even wide open shots in the second half, thing snowballed in a hurry. Maryland broke open a 28-24 game early in the second half and turned it into a 24-point rout through a combination of turnover-fueled buckets (17 points off turnovers), jumpers, and other baskets.

“The way they guarded [Assane] and Jontel, we’ve seen teams do that, where they sort of satellite ’em or zone off of them and just stay,” Bennett said. “Those are the opportunities we’ve got to try to cash in on.”

Maryland’s Adrian Bowie led the charge with 22 points, including a 17-point second-half. He made 7 of 9 shots after intermission and added four steals to his final stat line. Cliff Tucker added 13 points and 3 rebounds as well.

The one name uncharacteristically quiet for the Terrapins was Jordan Williams, who set a school record with his 13th consecutive double-double in a win against Clemson. The Cavaliers used a variety of strategies to slow down the post presence and held him to 4 points and 6 rebounds. Virginia’s Assane Sene spear-headed the defensive effort and finished with another solid night in the post; he posted 5 points and grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds. Sene did have 6 turnovers as the Hoos coughed the ball up 15 times overall.

“The interior defense I thought we did a good job and certainly on him. We lost track of some of their [other players] and Bowie had a good game. Whether they got to the rim off of drives or scored off turnovers or they penetrated and kicked, we lost vision and not always out of a double team in the post or the attention there,” Bennett said. “I thought our positioning defensively hurt us. Looking at that stat line, I wouldn’t have guessed that outcome but they’ve got some experienced players that stepped up and hit some shots.”

Still, while Virginia managed to slow down Williams, the Terrapins managed to slow down the entire Virginia team. The Hoos’ 42 points are the lowest since an ACC Tournament loss (63-41) to Duke in 1998. It also marked UVa’s lowest scoring game in the John Paul Jones Arena.

Interestingly, speeding the Cavaliers up played a key role in slowing them down. The Terps used a varying 1-2-2 three-quarter court press to throw the Hoos out of sync and open things up. During the early moments of the second half, KT Harrell missed a 3-pointer on the wing against the press and later came up short on a baseline move as well in the early offense. Throw in a Jontel Evans ‘ turnover and another missed shot against the pressure and a 26-24 game quickly ballooned to 35-24. UVa never recovered.

“We prepared for it and watched it on film and knew Maryland liked to press out of dead balls and made baskets. We just let it get to us. We weren’t being very aggressive with it. We were just playing monkey in the middle almost out front with two guards,” Virginia’s Joe Harris said. “We weren’t getting enough open action in the middle and attacking open seams. When you’re soft like that, a press will get to you.”

Final Stats