With a chance to notch a signature win, against a ranked opponent, the Maryland Terrapins came up painfully short against the North Carolina Tarheels in Chapel Hill. The Terps needed a win to bolster their NCAA hopes and put them firmly int he mix of “bubble” teams. Now Maryland must win their final two conference games and go on an extended run in the ACC Tournament. In a game that was close for much of the first half, Maryland could not keep up with the size and athleticism of the surging ‘Heels.
Maryland did get strong perfomances from Terrell Stoglin and Jordan Williams, but got little production from their upper classmen. Stoglin set a creer high in leading the Terps with 28 points. Stoglin hit shots from all over the court and had Carolina on their heels (pun) with his quickness. Williams led Maryland with 19 boards, also a career high, and chipped in 16 points and 3 blocks. Despite the production, Williams, who was apparently battling a stomach bug, struggled against the length of the Carolina bigmen. Even with big nights out of Stoglin and Williams, the Terps were no match for North Carolina.
In what is emerging as a disturbing pattern as guards Adrian Bowie, Sean Moseley and Cliff Tucker continue to come up small in the biggest games for the Terps. Maryland got 5, 8 amd 7 point respectively out of a trio that was expected to carry the offensive and defensive load in the backcourt. Unfortunately for Maryland, the upper classmen have not consistently stepped up their play this season and Maryland had no answer for the ‘Heels dominance on the interior. Carolina only out-rebounded Maryland by 4 in the box score, but they had countless offensive rebounds and also blocked 9 shots. Perhaps the biggest stat of the game was Carolina’s ability to keep Williams and Dino Gregory off the free throw line. Onky James Padgett shot 2 free throws among Maryland’s interior players.
Up next for the Terps is a March 2nd tilt with Miami in Coral Gables. The ‘Canes, who are 5-9 in conference play, represent anotehr must win for the Terps. Of course you could argue that the rest of Maryland’s games are must wins. What would it take for Maryland to get to the NCAA’s? At this point it seems like a 9-7 record and three wins in the conference tourney could get it done, but if I were Maryland it might make more sense to simply let Stoglin go on a John Gilchrist like run through the tournament and lead the Terps to the NCAA’s. Even if the Terps are able to pull off a long shot and find themselves in the NCAA’s, it is clear that Gary Williams and the Terps are in need of a talent infusion beyond Terrell Stoglin and Jordan Williams