Maryland lacks poise in 64-61 loss to Davidson

Maryland basketball head coach Kevin Willard knew it would take time for his relatively young team to develop consistency on the offensive end. While that remained the case in his team’s Asheville Championship opening-round matchup against Davidson, it was their late-game defense that failed them the most against the Wildcats.

After senior guard Jahmir Young converted a three-point play to tie the game at 61 with just over 30 seconds to go, Davidson’s Bobby Durkin knocked down a wide-open corner 3-pointer with 13 seconds remaining to propel the Wildcats to a 64-61 win over Maryland on Friday night.

The Terps had the ball with a chance to tie with a three, but Noah Batchelor’s attempt was no good and Maryland failed to get another shot up.

With the loss, Maryland will face the loser of Clemson/UAB on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

The first several minutes left a lot to be desired, as Maryland began the contest shooting 4-of-13 from the field as Davidson took an early 13-9 lead.

It was clear that Davidson’s defensive focus was to force the ball out of the hands of junior forward Julian Reese, who Maryland head coach Kevin Willard has made it known he would like to run his offense through. Reese was doubled on virtually every post touch and was forced to pass out to open shooters.

This plan proved to be successful early, as the Terps went just 3-15 from 3-point range in the first half.

As was evident in the season-opener against Mount St. Mary’s, Maryland’s 3-point shooting is an area that needs to be improved if the Terps want to remain competitive come Big Ten play.

The Terps trailed by as many as eight points in the first half as Davidson built its lead through its 3-point shooting. The Wildcats knocked down 4-of-8 from downtown in the first 20 minutes, as several defensive lapses hindered Maryland and led to open perimeter looks.

A major pregame defensive key for Maryland was to limit Davidson’s ability to find open shooters, after the Wildcats took 36 threes in their season-opening victory.

With Maryland trailing 22-14, consecutive baskets by Reese and a quick steal and layup from Young allowed the Terps to trim the lead to one. Another forced turnover and a Young three gave Maryland a 25-24 lead.

Young led Maryland with 10 first-half points and was the only real scoring threat in a half where Maryland shot just 38% from the field.

Maryland tightened its screws defensively to end the first half, as Davidson was held without a field goal in the final 4:25 and took a slim 33-32 lead into the break.

Davidson’s consistent scoring continued early in the second half, as the Wildcats opened on a 6-0 run before Batchelor knocked down an open three for Maryland.

The ability of Davidson’s guards to constantly penetrate and break down Maryland’s zone led to a surplus of open shots.

Trailing 44-35, a nice spurt by Jordan Geronimo gave Maryland life on both ends of the floor. The Indiana transfer scored a quick four points, grabbed two rebounds and collected one block as his defensive presence was felt on the interior.

Despite Geronimo’s all-floor effort, it seemed as though every time Maryland had opportunities to capitalize, Davidson answered with a three and grew its lead.

Down 59-51 with over three minutes remaining, the first real sign of any potential comeback began when Young rattled in a three, which was followed by four free throws from Reese and Donta Scott.

Reese was fouled twice down the stretch and split a pair of free throws on each trip to the line. He finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds while going 2-of-5 from the free-throw line.

Young’s and-one floater and free throw tied the game at 61, but another defensive lapse from Scott gave Davidson the open game-winner.

Young led Maryland with 18 points and picked up seven assists, but it will take more than production from just him and Reese for Maryland to compete as the season wears on. The duo combined for 34 of Maryland’s 61 points.

Freshman guard DeShawn Harris-Smith chipped in eight points on 2-of-9 shooting from the field, but never found a rhythm in his second collegiate game.

Perimeter shooting was a glaring issue that clouded Maryland’s 2022-23 season. Although the season is only less than a week old, it seems as though it has the potential to continue throughout this season.

The road only gets tougher, as after Sunday’s matchup, Maryland will travel to Villanova on Nov. 17.

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