RICHMOND,VA. — RICHMOND, Va. -- This is the kind of season it might be for Maryland. Twelve-point deficits followed by nine point-leads followed by 15-point losses. From the brink of victory to the blowout of defeat.
Last night's 100-85 loss to Boston College in the ACC-Big East Challenge, played out before what was left of a small crowd at the Richmond Coliseum, showed how inconsistent and offensively impotent the Terrapins can be.
Despite two separate runs of 13 straight points, the second of which gave Maryland (2-2) a nine-point lead with 15 minutes remaining, it was not enough to hold off the Eagles or the inevitable.
"I did think Boston College did a good job of hanging in there
until a run that put us away," said Maryland coach Gary Williams. "Our offense execution and ball-handling leaves a lot to be desired."
The defeat, Maryland's second straight after opening the season with two victories, was hastened by the departure of senior center Cedric Lewis, who fouled out with 5 minutes, 38 seconds remaining. At the time, the Terps trailed by only 78-77.
But with both Lewis and junior forward Garfield Smith (sprained ankle) on the bench, Boston College forward Doug Able took over inside. Able, a former standout at Calvert Hall, scored seven straight of his 20 points as the Eagles increased their lead.
"They did a good job getting the ball inside after Cedric fouled out," said Maryland guard Walt Williams. "And we turned the ball over a lot and missed our shots down the stretch."
Williams led the Terps with a season-high 30 points, but missed 15 of 24 shots from the field (including eight of 10 on three-pointers) and was held to a meaningless three-pointer by Eagles defensive whiz Bobby Moran when the game was still hanging in the balance.
Meanwhile, Maryland was burned by a pair of freshman guards, Gerrod Abram and Howard Eisley. Abram, who came off the bench last night, equaled Williams' game-high point total, but with 10 fewer shots. He was six of seven from three-point range. Eisley added 24.
"He hadn't done it before, so it was a surprise," Gary Williams said of Abram, who was eight of 33 from the field coming into the game and nine of 14 last night. "But we didn't do a good job adjusting. He had a great night."
Said Boston College coach Jim O'Brien, whose 5-1 team won its fourth straight game: "We're very familiar with Gerrod's ability. Without being funny, I think so is Maryland now."
The defeat for Maryland was its second straight blowout in the Challenge, and it evened things after No. 21 Virginia had upset No. 11 Pittsburgh, 84-80, before a disappointing crowd of 7,702. Bryant Stith had 28 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavaliers.
While the series continues tonight in Syracuse, with the fourth-ranked Orangemen taking on high-scoring North Carolina State in the featured game, the Terps will try to regroup for Saturday's game at Jacksonville.
"We didn't play well in either of our last two games," said Walt Williams, alluding to a 90-85 defeat at West Virginia on Saturday. "So I guess it's back to the drawing board."
Said senior guard Matt Roe: "It's tough to lose, especially after having a big lead. We've got a lot of things to work on."
What Maryland will have to work on in the next few days, and over the course of the season, are basics: ball-handling and shooting. The Terps committed 19 turnovers against the Eagles, and made only 30 of 69 from the field. Among the misses were several blown layups and dunks.
Aside from Williams, and Roe (15 points), Maryland has little in the way of firepower. Reserve guard Matthew "Cougar" Downing had a couple of long jumpers in the first 13-0 run, which gave the Terps a 39-37 lead, but did little after that. Their bench shot a combined seven of 20.
And, of course, there were the turnovers. When Maryland pulled to within 83-80 on a three-point play by Evers Burns, there was still 3:40 left on the clock. But the Terps had trouble holding onto the ball, and shooting it, and the Eagles paraded to the free-throw line, making their last 12 free throws.
"Hopefully, we'll get better," said Gary Williams. "It doesn't get any easier, so we'd better get better."
NOTES: About the only thing Maryland did well last night is something it has been doing surprisingly well this season: rebounding. The Terps out-rebounded the taller Eagles 44-32, the fourth straight time they have out-rebounded their opponents this season. Lewis and Williams each had eight, while Williams added seven assists. Maryland received an early technical foul for having the numbers of Roe and freshman guard Mike Thibeult switched on the official score sheet. The numbers had been listed incorrectly in the Maryland press guide.