Maryland's game against UNC this afternoon took place in very unfamiliar surroundings for the young Terps -- no active player on the Terps' roster had played so much as a single game (prior to today) in the newly-renovated and reopened Carmichael Auditorium.
Perhaps the newness of their surroundings had something to do with the team's slow start. Maybe, maybe not. Who knows? In any event, winning on the road is always tough in the ACC. No better proof than today, as the Terps lost to the home team --as did every other visiting team playing in the Conference today -- the Terps by a score of 75-64.
Maryland found themselves in the position of playing catch-up pretty much all game long. Once again, the mostly rookie Maryland team was plagued by turnovers. But today (unlike the previous 2 games . . . and wins) the Terps weren't able to compensate for their mistakes with rebounding, high percentage shooting or solid numbers from the FT line. No, today the Terps' 23 turnovers (ouch!) led to too many easy points for the Tar Heels. And when a team barely breaks 50% from the charity stripe, that just doesn't bode well for the outcome.
In the first half, it looked like UNC was ready to break the game open early. But we have to give a lot of credit to the young Maryland players. Unlike at NC State, when they fell behind early and for good, this time they battled back. Today, the Terps managed to close an 11-point deficit, take a short-lived lead, and head into the locker room at the half all tied up, 33-33.
The second half followed a similar pattern . . . for a while. The Heels went up by double-digits. The Terps fought back, closing UNC's lead to 2. But too many turnovers leading to fast break points by the Tar Heels, too many missed free throws -- and missed opportunities -- by the Terps gave Carolina an insurmountable lead and handed Maryland another ACC road loss.
Maryland was also plagued today by early foul trouble -- 3 of the Terps' starters picked up 2 each (and were parked on the bench) in the first half. As result of the fouls, Lynetta only played 19 minutes in the entire game. Her absence, along with a sub-par night from Diandra, allowed UNC's frontcourt to gain the upper hand. The Terps were forced to rely on their guards to pick up the slack. And there's no doubt they did their best! The only Maryland starter to finish in double digits today was Lori Bjork, who posted a game-high 18 points. And Kim Rodgers, coming off the bench (and playing in her first game since fracturing a bone in her hand) also hit double figures, scoring 11 points with her hand still all wrapped in tape. They did what they could. But, unfortunately, without the frontcourt support, it wasn't enough for a road win.
The Terps now return to (hopefully more friendly) Comcast for a two-game homestand. On Thursday, they'll take on the Miami Hurricanes at 7 PM, and then on Sunday, at 8 PM, they face the Conference-leading Duke Blue Devils.