- The Washington Times
Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Maryland held Virginia Tech scoreless for nearly 10 minutes in the second half, but couldn’t capitalize on the drought. The Hokies got hot from three and held on to beat the Terrapins, 62-58, as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge Wednesday night in College Park.

“We’ve gotta figure this out. We’re better,” said Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon. “I know everybody’s…we’re all frustrated. Because our standard here is high at Maryland.”

Virginia Tech forward Keve Alama scored 17 and forward Justyn Mutts, normally just under a nine point-per-game scorer, bested that in the first half with 11 points and finished with 16.

Hokies guard Hunter Cattoor added 12 points, all from three-point range, and sparked Virginia Tech (6-2 overall) by scoring nine in the final 10 minutes of the second half.

Center Qudus Wahab led Maryland (5-3 overall) early, scoring seven of the Terrapins’ first 10 points and finishing with a game-high 18. Fourteen of those points came in the first half.

“The expectations were high coming into the season, but we’re still getting used to playing with each other,” Turgeon said. “We’re better in a lot of phases but we’re not good enough to beat good teams. So we’re all frustrated.”

The loss came on a night Maryland honored its greatest basketball talent. The late Len Bias, who died of a cocaine overdose two days after being taken No. 2 overall in the 1986 NBA Draft, was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame last month. Fans wore gold jerseys with Bias’ No. 34 that were handed out as part of the celebration.

“It brought back memories,” Bias’ father James said of watching the video presentation honoring his son in the first half. “We were at those games. And they were good memories.”

“Our ashes that we have have been turned into beauty,” Bias’ mother Lonise added. “What we are so grateful for is that we have a measure of strength and our family here to celebrate this hour.”

Nine of Virginia Tech’s first 11 points came from three. However, the Hokies struggled from  the field for most of the first half, shooting 37.5% in the frame. They would finish 9-20 from long distance, a key to closing this game out down the stretch.

“They made some big shots late…that was really the difference. We kind of let down defensively a little bit,” Turgeon said.

Maryland trailed at halftime for the sixth time this season, 31-29. Though the Terrapins were strong underneath with 20 of their first-half points in the paint, they committed nine turnovers. No scorers besides Wahab and forward Donta Scott had more than two points in the first 20 minutes.

Hakim Hart decided to change that out of the break. The guard scored two of Maryland’s first three buckets in leading the Terrpins to an 8-0 run to open the second half and retake the lead at 39-35. 

The Hokies helped that run out by missing 13 straight shots. They didn’t make a field goal for more than nine minutes. When Cattoor finally hit a three, more than half of the second half was gone. The Hokies only trailed by three, 43-40, as the Terrapins struggled to build their lead past seven points during the VT dry patch.

The pendulum swung the other way when Maryland then hit its own desert, only scoring three points off of freshman Julian Reese’s basket and foul over the next five minutes. The Hokies rattled off seven straight makes to take a six-point lead, 56-50.

Maryland was hampered by its own shooting down the stretch, especially from three. The Terrapins finished 1-of-11 from beyond the arc — a 7% clip — and misses by Hart and Scott in the final 15 seconds ended any chance at a Maryland comeback.

“We’ve talked to the guys about sticking together,” Turgeon said, “and we’ve got to figure out a way.”

• George Gerbo can be reached at ggerbo@washingtontimes.com.

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