Scott German: Terps sizzle, Cavs fizzle

When the Virginia Cavaliers shoot the basketball well, they often find themselves in competitive games. When they don’t, then things can turn ugly. Very ugly. The latter being the case here Thursday evening as the visiting Maryland Terrapins capitalized on a horrendous shooting performance by Virginia to claim a 66-42 Atlantic Coast Conference win here in John Paul Jones Arena.

Maryland entered tonight’s contest having lost three of their past four visits to Charlottesville. Early in the game it appeared as ghosts of the past would haunt the Terrapins. Poor shooting to start the game and some tenacious Virginia defense kept the game close throughout the first half of action. Both teams enjoyed margins as many as five points with the Terps enjoying a 26-21 lead at the break.

Early in second-half play, the game would quickly turn into a story of two halves. Maryland shot 68 percent (17-for-25) and stretched its five-point halftime lead to as many as 25. The Terrapins were sparked by Adrian Bowie with 22 points, who picked up the slack on a night when their leading scorer, Jordon Williams, was held in check with just four. Virginia utilized multiple defenders on Williams throughout the contest that brought an end to his team-record straight 13 straight double-doubles.

Maryland flustered Virginia with its second-half defensive effort. A full-court press seemed to be particularly effective for the guest. Meanwhile, the Terps and Bowie in particular sizzled in the second half. After scoring the half’s first three points to close to with two at 26-24, the Cavaliers watched Bowie evolve into a one-man wrecking crew, scoring seven straight points to push the margin to nine at 33-24.

Leading 40-32, Bowie nailed a long-range jumper, then stole a pass and made a layup and foul shot to balloon the margin to 13 at 45-32. Things would only get worse for the Cavaliers.

Virginia, despite a impressive win over Georgia tech on Saturday, entered having lost three of four games. The Cavaliers were without the services of leading scorer and rebounder Mike Scott, whose ankle injury ended his season after just 10 games.

Without the 6-8 Scott, the Cavaliers four leading scorers are all guards, and all started, leaving just seven-footer Assane Sene taller than 6-6′. Sene had a career-high 15 rebounds but provided Virginia little in the way of an inside offensive threat.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett stated the obvious after the contest. “I think we all know that was poor performance on our part against a team that played well against us.” Bennett agreed that the Maryland press played a part in his team’s overall woes. “Maryland did a good job with their press. They mixed it up, and we certainly didn’t attack they way we should have. Tt really caused us problems.” noted Bennett.

Virginia, now 2-4 in ACC play and 11-9 overall, will be in Winston-Salem Saturday afternoon to face Wake Forest.

Story by Scott German

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Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is now available at a special pre-sale discounted price of $20. The book is expected to ship by May 15, 2019, and expected to retail for $25.
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The book, with additional reporting by Scott Ratcliffe and Zach Pereles, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
 
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