The Cavaliers out-shot and out-rebounded a Maryland team that leads the ACC in field-goal percentage defense. The Terps also carry a nationally-ranked rebounding margin of plus 11.1 but Virginia was the first team to beat them on the boards this year despite having a three-guard line up. Virginia gathered 34 rebounds to 29 for the Terrapins.
This home loss hurt as the Terps are running out of time to build a resume that will give them a shot at being selected to play in the NCAA tournament. After a 60-55 road win over Virginia Tech, the Terrapins lost all momentum from that exciting victory with this setback at home.
It is looking more and more like winning the ACC tournament is the only way they will avoid being left out of the Big Dance for the second time in the second year of the Mark Turgeon Era.
After winning 13 straight games, the Terps have gone 4-6 and are now 17-7. They have a 5-6 conference record and are currently in sixth place in league play.
They will have to shake off this loss because the next game is a home date with #2 Duke and their last real opportunity to prove they are an NCAA tournament-worthy team before ACC tournament time.
Cavalier Joe Harris made turtle soup out of the Terrapins defense by connecting on 7-of-8 from the field including 3-of-4 three pointers while scoring a team high 22 points. Harris seemed to make a clutch shot every time the Terps made a run in a game where they were behind by nearly double-digits for much of the second half.
Virginia finished the game hitting 11 of 19 three pointers, winning the 3-point battle. Cavalier Paul Jesperson was 4-for-4 on three point shots and helped Virginia shoot 75 percent from beyond the arc during the deciding second half.
The first half ended with the Cavaliers up 35-29. Virginia scored the first five points of the second half and a jumper by Harris put them up 40-29. They had their largest lead of 14 points after another Harris bucket with an even 13 minutes to play in the game giving them a hefty 51-37 lead.
The Terrapins made short runs and a full court press rattled Virginia but an Alex Len lay-up cutting the lead to seven at 74-67 with 51 seconds to play was as close as Maryland would get in the second half.
The Terrapins seemed to struggle all day on offense. They shot well enough, connecting on 47 percent of their shots. It was their indecision on offense and 13 turnovers that hurt the most.
With 7-foot-1 center Len hounded every time he touched the ball, the impatient Terrapins went away from trying to pound the ball inside and just could not match the three-point accuracy of the Cavaliers. The Terps were only 5-of-17 from beyond the arc.
The Terps outside-threat, Jake Layman, finished 1-for-7 for the game and missed a critical three that could have cut the lead to five with 5:40 to play. He finished with four points.
Maryland’s usually reliable defense, which has been holding opponents to .362 percent shooting, was not able to bail them out in this game. Dez Wells was the only Terp starter to finish in double figures with 13 points. Seth Allen added 11.
Len scored nine points and gobbled up seven rebounds on a day when the Terrapins should have looked for him more because the Cavaliers had no one to match his size.
Maryland showed heart and hustle with a second half full court press, but hurt themselves at the free throw line. The Terrapins were only able to convert on 10 of 18 free throw attempts, many misses coming when the they might have cut deeper into the Virginia lead.
To add insult to injury, former Terrapin recruit Justin Anderson torched the Terps for 17 points while collecting a team-high nine rebounds. Anderson decided to go to Virginia once former Maryland coach Gary Williams resigned.
Following the Maryland win, Virginia beat Virginia Tech 73-55. They are now 18-6, 8-3 in ACC play, good for third place in the league and unlike Maryland, appear headed for a secure NCAA Tournament bid.