Offensive futility sends Maryland men’s basketball to back-breaking loss against Rutgers

Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

With two minutes left in the game, the home crowd at Xfinity Center erupted as if the Big Ten Championship were on the line. After trailing by almost ten points just minutes prior, the Terps were suddenly within three points of a win.

After losing to the Michigan State Spartans just three days ago in East Lansing, Michigan, the 13-9 Maryland Terrapins returned home to College Park on Tuesday to host the 11-10 Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Rutgers, having also played on Saturday, was looking to create a two-game win streak after beating Michigan, 69-59.

Rutgers would win its second-straight road game, beating Maryland, 56-53.

“I’m a little perplexed that we’ve come out at home and we have some older guys that seemed— not that they weren’t ready to play, defensively they gave a great effort— it’s just offensively we were so lackadaisical,” Maryland head coach Kevin Willard said post-game.

Maryland’s starting guards included DeShawn Harris-Smith and Jahmir Young alongside forwards Jordan Geronimo, Julian Reese and Donta Scott. For Rutgers, Jamichael Davis, Derek Simpson and Jeremiah Williams started at guard with Mawot Mag at forward and Clifford Omoruyi at center.

The first five minutes of the opening half were tight with Rutgers managing a six-point run and holding Maryland to a brief scoring drought to kick things off. By the fifth minute in, the Scarlet Knights turned the ball over on three straight possessions which finally let Maryland tie at 6-6.

Rutgers continued turning the ball over while draining just one of eight consecutive shot attempts, but Maryland found making baskets to be just as difficult and therefore stayed trailing. Forced to take a majority of its shots from the three-point range, Maryland shot 0-5 from beyond the arc in the first eight minutes with Jamie Kaiser Jr. and Donta Scott each missing two. 

Seemingly out of nowhere, Rutgers put together a 9-0 run as the clock eclipsed the 10-minute mark, with a third of its 15 points coming from Jeremiah Williams in the opening stretch. But soon after, Williams received a technical foul for getting physical with Julian Reese following a foul call, and the tech marked Williams’ third personal foul of the game. He was placed on the bench for the remainder of the half.

“[Jeremiah] has a great personality, he’s brought personality to our team,” Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell said in his post-game presser. “He made some huge plays down the stretch for us, and he can’t get into foul trouble anymore like that, but he adds a lot.”

With just over five minutes left in the half, Jahmir Young pulled up for three to build on an 8-0 run. The basket gave Maryland its first lead of the game at 16-15 and forced a timeout from Rutgers. 

Maryland’s lead held true going into halftime with the score at 24-22. The Terps were successful on just eight of their 27 field goal attempts in the first half, almost identical to Rutgers which made eight of its 28. 

The second half started eerily similarly to the first. Rutgers quickly managed two straight scores to tie the game, and the lead switched back and forth between teams before being taken by Rutgers for multiple possessions. In the opening minutes of the period, Jeremiah Williams was sent to the bench after receiving his fourth personal foul, and Jahmir Young reached 1,000 points as a Terp. 

“It shows the hard work that I put in,” Young said post-game, reflecting on his accolade. “But it really cancels out, I’m not really worried about it. I’m just trying to figure out how we can win some games.”

Jeremiah Williams would return to the court with 10 minutes left to play.

Willard called timeout for Maryland with five minutes left in the game. His team trailed by seven and had gone basketless for five straight minutes, successful on just one of its past eight shot attempts. And despite dealing with foul trouble by having Omoruyi and Williams each at four personals, Rutgers extended its lead to 10 soon after the break, seemingly diminishing Maryland’s opportunity to pull out a win.

“The coaches really got on me about playing smart and making sure I don’t get that fifth foul,” Williams said afterwards. “They made sure I was just staying solid, sticking to our principles, and staying out of the way at the right times.”

But a 6-0 run by Maryland changed the outlook completely with under two minutes to play. A pair of free throws by Donta Scott left the Terps down by three before coming out of a timeout called by Rutgers. 

Clifford Omoruyi fouled out of the game with a minute remaining, and Jahmir Young’s free throws made the score 51-52, Rutgers.  

Willard called his final timeout with 13 seconds left on the clock, Maryland then down by three. With five seconds left, Donta Scott pulled up for the three-point shot to tie but was unsuccessful.

Maryland’s point-leaders were Julian Reese (19 points, 12 rebounds), Jahmir Young (16 points, 12 rebounds) and Donta Scott (eight points). For Rutgers, Mawot Mag led with 15 points, followed by Jeremiah Williams (14 points) and Clifford Omoruyi (eight points).

“To be honest, there was a lack of urgency overall,” Young said post-game. “That’s unacceptable with where we’re at in this season.”

Maryland heads to Columbus on Saturday to face the Ohio State Buckeyes.