Maryland Wins 85-70 Over Pack in Men's Basketball
BY TIM PEELER
RALEIGH – After two difficult road losses, NC State returned home Wednesday night looking to return to the emotional high it left behind following its win over No. 3 North Carolina in its most recent game at the RBC Center.
But the Wolfpack could never get over the hump against Maryland, which was riding its own wave following its 12-point victory over Duke on Sunday. The Terps led from the outset, allowing only one tie in the game, at 44-44, early in the second half to score an 85-70 victory, ending its three-game losing streak to the Wolfpack.
It was the third consecutive loss for Sidney Lowe’s squad, its longest losing streak of the season.
The Wolfpack (13-11 overall, 3-8 ACC) was led by redshirt freshman Brandon Coster, who had a game-high 19 points. Junior Gavin Grant had 18 points, followed by senior Engin Atsur with 14 points and sophomore Ben McCauley with 12. McCauley also had a game-high 13 rebounds.
Maryland senior guard D.J. Strawberry led his team with 18 points, while teammates Greivis Vasquez had 15 and James Gist and Mike Jones had 13 apiece for the Terps (18-7, 5-6).
Lowe was disappointed in his team’s perimeter defense for much of the game, especially in the second half with the Terps made 62.5 percent of their shots from the field.
“We just didn’t defend,” Lowe said. “Our guards got beat off the dribble all night long and that really hurt us. Our bigs had to protect them pretty much the entire night. It is pretty tough to get stops when your guards are getting beat.”
Both starters in the Wolfpack backcourt, senior Engin Atsur and sophomore Courtney Fells, were hampered in the game by injuries. Atsur, though healthier than he has been since the start of the season, is still favoring the hamstring injury that forced him to miss the heart of the Wolfpack schedule in December and January and Fells is recovering from a bruised tailbone he suffered on a fall late in Sunday's game at Miami.
“Our guards did a really horrible job defending their guards,” Atsur said. “We have to get better on defense and stop people. That is how we are going to win games.”
The Wolfpack guard play created issues on the perimeter for the short-handed Wolfpack that couldn’t be overcome with help from its post players.
“We have to concentrate a lot on defense,” McCauley said. “We didn’t do that tonight and they ran the score up on us. Their guards penetrated – it seemed like every possession they were in the lane. That is one thing we really have to concentrate on is preventing our opponent from getting into the paint, where they can make opportunities where they did.”
The Terps scored the first seven points of the game and led by as many as eight points in the first half before their shooting went on the skids. During one stretch, the Terps missed 13 of the 14 shots they attempted.
The Wolfpack closed the gap to two points during that stretch on three occasions, once with the help of a four-point possession following a technical foul on Strawberry. Lowe’s team again got within to in the final seconds of the first half when freshman Dennis Horner nailed a 3-pointer as time expired.
The Pack tied the score at 44-44 with 17:03 remaining in the game on a 3-pointer by Grant, but the Terps outscored the Wolfpack 10-3 over the next five minutes to regain the lead. It continued to add to pad that margin to as many as 16 points.
“When we had the game tied 44-44, it seemed like we were content with that and we let it slip away,” Grant said.
The Wolfpack returns to action Sunday in a home contest against Virginia Tech at the RBC Center. The game tips off at 4 p.m.
You may contact Tim Peeler at firstname.lastname@example.org.