The Hurricanes’ recent dominance of the Maryland Terrapins came to a halt Saturday night when Miami lost 73-68 on the road.
Coming into the game, head coach Frank Haith and company had won four in a row against the Terps and six of the last seven.
Maryland (14-7, 3-4) led by as many as 11 in the second half as the Canes couldn’t cut the deficit to less than five. The last time UM led in the game was with 4:44 left in the first half.
Miami (14-7, 3-5) has lost three in a row, including back-to-back overtime losses, and its recent struggles could not have come at a worse time: the Canes face a daunting three-game stretch starting Wednesday night when they host sixth-ranked Wake Forest (17-2, 4-2) at the BankUnited Center.
”I don’t really have a whole lot other than to say they just totally played harder than us, played tougher than us, more physical than us,” Haith said. “They took the game to us right from the start and never let up.”
Once again the offense struggled to protect the basketball, turning it over 15 times with only 11 assists. The Terrapins, on the other hand, committed just seven turnovers while dishing out 17 assists.
Junior guard Greivis Vasquez missed the third triple-double in program history by one assist, putting up totals of 11 points, 10 rebounds, and nine dishes. Although he struggled with his shot – going four of 15 from the field – Vasquez did not commit a turnover in his 35 minutes of action.
A Terp player hasn’t accomplished a triple-double in over 22 years.
Senior guard Jack McClinton scored a team-high 18 points as friends and family from nearby Baltimore watched from the stands. McClinton struggled with his shot, however, knocking down just six of his 15 attempts.
The only other Hurricane in double-digits was junior guard James Dews, who notched 13 points.
As a team, UM shot 40.7 percent, but the Terps didn’t fare much better, converting 41.5 percent of their attempts.
Despite getting out-rebounded by Miami, Maryland was able to neutralize the Canes’ size advantage by mixing up their defenses and forcing them to settle for 3-point shots. The Hurricanes matched a season-high with 31 attempts from beyond the arc, making just 10.
With a mixture of full-court pressure, 2-3 zones and box-and-one defenses employed against the Orange and Green, junior forward Dwayne Collins, redshirt junior forward Adrian Thomas and senior forward Brian Asbury, who had been hot over the previous few games, combined for just 15 points.
“We missed shots and we didn’t have the presence of our post players,” Haith said. “They pushed us away from the basket and we turned the ball over.”
Things won’t get any easier for the Hurricanes.
After Wednesday night’s primetime ESPN2 matchup, Miami hits the road to face top-ranked Duke (19-2, 6-1) before facing fifth-ranked North Carolina (19-2, 5-2) the following Sunday at the BankUnited Center.
Those three teams are a combined 14-6 in ACC play and 54-6 overall.
”We have a tough game on Wednesday,” Haith said. “Wake Forest. Tough game. We’ve got to get ourselves ready to go, and get ready to compete against Wake Forest.”