The offensive ineptitude of Maryland men’s basketball was far too evident against Virginia Tech.
Fortunately for Maryland, Qudus Wahab was willing to make up for some of the Terps shortcomings and explode for a commanding 18 points and seven rebounds in a slugfest that ended in Virginia Tech’s favor, 62-58.
The rest of those flaws doomed the Terps in the end. The offensive qualities that are expected of a properly cohesive, tournament bound college basketball squad were absent Wednesday night as Maryland faltered late to Virginia Tech in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
“Obviously we’re disappointed. This was a special night,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “We wanted to win for [Len Bias], we wanted to play great for him, and we weren’t able to do it.”
In an atmosphere designated for Maryland’s newest College Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, Len Bias — number 34 — the early play on the floor was all about Wahab, number 33 on the court.
Throughout the opening half, as Maryland settled for ill-advised shots, turned the ball over recklessly and oftentimes resorted to playing one-on-one on multiple occasions, Wahab found the bottom of the basket on every play in between.
The Hokies had no one to guard the Terps starting center. And their lacking low post defense was especially clear by halftime, when Wahab accounted for 14 of his team’s 29 points. But outside of Wahab in the first half, practically nothing went well for the Terps.
That stagnant offense Maryland trudged through the first half with, granted the Terps just two assists and a glaring nine turnovers at the break. Maryland’s abysmal three point shooting made matters worse. The 14% mark from range at halftime was well below the Terps already horrid 28% average. Wahab and Donta Scott were the only two players for Maryland with multiple converted field goals at the break as Virginia Tech shot 50% from three and protected a, 31-29, lead.
Something more than Wahab had to go right for Maryland. And with his foul count rising — and his post opportunities lessening thanks to foul trouble — as the game neared its end, the offensive ailments needed to be mended.
Briefly, it was a 1-12 offensive start by the Hokies that helped Maryland jump to a 43-36 lead. Hakim Hart and Julian Reese got more involved in the scoring column, but the still lifeless and inefficient collective offense, failed to thrust the Terps in a more dominant position.
“Our offense was a lot better when [Wahab] was in the game,” Turgeon said. “That was clearly obvious to everyone there.”
The Terps three point shooting woes continued and they failed to convert a single three in the final half, the Virginia Tech three point balls started to fall and the Maryland lead was subsequently in doubt — and Wahab’s minimal second half production (four points) would do little to save it.
Virginia Tech tightened up on both phases and Maryland made just three of its last 12 field goal attempts as the Hokies made nine of their last 10.
“They made big shots,” Scott said. “So, gotta give credit to them for knocking down shots …”
The Terps miraculously willed their way within three points of re-tying the game, but the three point basket Hart chucked to grant new life to the contest was off like 11 of the other 12 shots that were taken beyond the arc that night.
“We’ll keep plugging and try to stick together and see if we can try to win a game on Sunday,” Turgeon said.