COLLEGE PARK — Whether it’s kidney stones, turnovers or missed free throws by his precocious team, first-year Maryland coach Mark Turgeon is not sleeping well these days.
Coming off an embarrassing, turnover-riddled 26-point loss to Iona in Puerto Rico Sunday, Turgeon had a few sleepless nights this week.
Friday night’s 73-67 win over Florida Gulf Coast, before an announced 12,080 at Comcast Center, was not exactly the REM-inducing remedy Turgeon was seeking.
“Like a day in the park, really easy for us,” a relieved Turgeon said after the game.
Leading by seven points at halftime and by 16 with just over 12 minutes left, Maryland (3-2) watched the Eagles pull to 67-62 with just over two minutes left and to 70-66 with 47.6 seconds left.
Sophomore guard Terrell Stoglin finished with a game-high 24 points, but made Turgeon and everyone else a bit nervous with his free throw shooting. Stoglin finished the game 12 of 21 from the line, missing a number of free throws down the stretch.
The Terps finished the game 23 of 39 from the line, giving them something else to work on before Tuesday’s game against Illinois in the ACC/Big Ten challenge.
Stoglin’s shot selection was much better Friday night, and for only the second time this season, didn’t give his new coach much reason to fret (hitting 5 of 13 overall).
In general, Turgeon was pleased with his team's effort, as well as its efficiency for the first 30 minutes before a combination of a fullcourt press by Florida Gulf Coast (2-4) and Maryland's poor shooting from the line made the game closer than it should have been.
“To be honest with you, when we built the lead I was really proud of our team,” Turgeon said. “We were really guarding, we were executing when they were changing their defenses and we were handling (it), guys were doing a lot of really good things out there.”
Aside from Stoglin, whom Turgeon said is improving his defense and decision-making, Turgeon also said that junior forward John Auslander played a pivotal part in the victory. Trailing 9-2 early in the game, Turgeon replaced starting center/power forward Berend Weijs with Auslander.
The former walk-on who started his college career at Division III Greensboro College gave the Terps a lift both offensively (six points in the first half) and by doing little things like taking a charge and setting picks to free teammates for jumpers.
“John does everything right,” Turgeon said. “Physically he can't do some things that he's asked to do, but he understands how to play the game. We're teaching other guys how to play the game right now and they can learn from John. “
Auslander started the second half, and after Florida Gulf Coast cut its deficit to five right after intermission, helped the Terps on a 9-0 run to give themselves — and Turgeon — some breathing rooom. Not that it stayed that way.
Playing a little too fast, and at times out of control, Maryland watched as the Eagles, who earlier this season lost one-point road games at Texas Christian and Southern Methodist, chipped away at their deficit. The biggest problem for the Terps was the press — the same thing that bothered Maryland in its second-half meltdown against Iona.
“We panic and we pick up the dribble,” Stoglin said. “I felt we were waiting for the double-team to come instead of just going, that was pretty much it.”
Leading 69-64 with 1:40 to play, freshman guard Nick Faust (City) broke the press and the Terps patiently worked the ball around the perimeter until calling timeout with 1:19 left in the game and 14 seconds left on the shot clock.
Stoglin took the inbounds pass, drove the lane and was fouled. Stoglin missed both free throws, but was able to control the tip on the long rebound. Weijs was fouled with 57.6 seconds to go, and the senior made the first before missing the second.
Florida Gulf Coast guard Brett Comer then hit a reverse layup to cut the deficit to four. Stoglin was fouled and then missed both free throws again. Fortunately for the Terps, Faust forced a turnover and then retrieved what could have been an errant pass from Sean Mosley.
Stoglin was fouled again, this time with 26 seconds left, and made the first. He again missed the second, as the remaining crowd got jittery. Sherwood Brown then missed a long three for Florida Gulf Coast and Stoglin was fouled. This time he missed the first, but made the second.
“Personally I felt like I played a pretty good game, I've got to stay focused at the end,” Stoglin said. “I've never missed so many free throws in a game before.”