Terps rally from 9 down in final 2:21, survive on Huerter’s blocked shot
WASHINGTON — As the fouls piled up on his players, the frustration boiled inside Maryland coach Mark Turgeon on Tuesday night at Verizon Center against Georgetown until he got whistled for a technical midway through the second half.
A halftime tie had turned into a nine-point deficit for the Terps with 2:21 remaining, and Turgeon was blaming himself for contributing to his team’s seemingly fading among a steady flow of free throws by the Hoyas. Sunday, 2 p.m. Video: ESPN3 Radio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM, 1300 AM
“I thought it hurt us,” Turgeon said of the technical. “It was a two-point game when it happened, all of a sudden we’re down eight or nine. I felt bad for the team, I felt like I let ’em down a little bit. In the end, we just kept playing and we got lucky.”
Though the free-throw discrepancy was nearly the reverse of what happened between these two local rivals last season in College Park, the outcome was the same.
Two defensive gems by freshman wing Kevin Huerter bookended a pair of free throws by Maryland junior guard Melo Trimble with 7.6 seconds left as the Terps beat the Hoyas, 76-75, for the second straight year in the Gavitt Tipoff Games.
After Huerter forced Georgetown guard Rodney Pryor to step onto the sideline, Trimble was fouled deep in Maryland’s backcourt, taking the inbounds pass. He made both free throws to put the Terps ahead.
On Georgetown’s final possession, freshman guard Jagan Mosely took the inbounds pass, drove the length of the court and tried to draw a foul on the 6-7 Huerter, who used his 4-inch height advantage to cleanly block the shot.
“When he went up, to be honest, I said to myself, ‘Go straight up,’ ” Huerter said. “I was trying to avoid the contact. I thought he’d try to kind of lean in and go around. When I went up, I was mainly going to contest the shot and I kind of turned and blocked it I guess off the backboard.”
Huerter’s block — and the final horn — set off a wild celebration by the Terps at midcourt, with Turgeon stomping his feet several times as he hugged his assistants and then his players. When the team got to the locker room, players doused Turgeon with water.
Since the Hoyas will be the highest-rated team Maryland will play in its nonconference schedule — and the game was technically on the road — it will be something that could help the Terps with their RPI later in the season.
Trimble finished with 22 points, including 18 in the second half, and freshman forward Justin Jackson added 17 points and seven rebounds for Maryland (2-0), which had dropped out of the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time in nearly two years after a come-from-behind, six-point seasonopening win over American at home Friday.
The Terps were a bit more impressive, especially late, against Georgetown.
“The last two years have just been great games, and we’ve been fortunate to come out on top in both games, we beat a great team tonight,” Turgeon said. “I was worried sick. We went twice on Sunday, we went 21⁄ hours [Monday] , we had a walk-through last night, we had a walk-through this morning, we had shoot-around because I knew how good Georgetown was. Then they started to make some shots and they made every free throw. Our guys never quit; they kept competing.”
Georgetown, which was coming off a 45-point win at home over South CarolinaUpstate, was led by junior forward L.J. Peak, who scored 21.
The Hoyas had built what seemed to be a comfortable 68-59 lead by going to the free-throw line frequently, and making their shots there. They finished 37-for-42 at the stripe. The Terps made 17 of 22.
“It was hard for both teams, it’s early season, and I think a lot of our fouls is because Georgetown has such good players,” said Turgeon, whose team committed 17 fouls in the first half — nearly evenly distributed, with eight players picking up two each — and 32 for the game.
“They were really hard to guard. We put so much time into press offense we probably didn’t put enough time into guarding the basketball.”
Said Trimble: “It was a crazy game. We fought throughout the whole game. It was tied [31-31] at halftime, but they pretty much had the lead the second half. We just kept fighting. We played with a group of freshmen that had never been in that environment. Just for them to go out there and play the way they did and step up when we needed them to was very special.”
Though Trimble has played in more hostile settings — by the end of the game, the Maryland fans were louder than the Georgetown fans — it marked the first big game for freshman point guard Anthony Cowan Jr. (11 points, five assists, five rebounds) and fellow rookies Jackson and Huerter.
“Honestly, it was my first time playing in an environment like this,” said Jackson, who played two years at Findley Prep in Las Vegas before finishing his prep career in his native Ontario, where it started.
“It was nerve-wracking a little bit, but the confidence my teammates had in meand my coaches had in me, I would be able to get over the hump.”
The loss seemed devastating to the Hoyas. As his son’s team went dejectedly into their locker room, former Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr., the program’s patriarch, sat with his eyes closed on a chair.
At his postgame news conference John Thompson III had trouble articulating his thoughts.
“Not that it’s rocket science, we know what we did wrong,” he said. “We can’t make those mistakes coming down to the end. I’m not taking anything away from their defensive effort and their focus coming down the stretch; it’s hard sitting here coming up with something positive, but I thought we played well for long stretches and in the end there’s a lot we can learn from it.”
Freshman Kevin Huerter blocks a shot by Georgetown’s Jagan Mosely to seal Maryland’s comeback victory at Verizon Center.
Maryland players celebrate after their come-from-behind victory over Georgetown. “It was a crazy game,” Terps guard Melo Trimble said.