Better luck next time for Men's Basketball
The dream of upsetting neighboring giants Maryland in its season opener turned into a nightmare for the AU Men's Basketball team, which only managed eight points in the first half of a 79-48 loss to the Terrapins Saturday night in College Park, Md.
AU's defense did its part for most of the first half, holding the Terrapins to only 13 points in the first 10 minutes and 35 points at the half. But with anemic 4-of-27 first-half shooting and 13 turnovers, the Eagles never had a chance.
"We didn't shoot well, but it wasn't just shooting that cost us," said AU head coach Jeff Jones afterward. "We didn't have the mental and physical toughness it takes to beat a team that athletic. Give Maryland credit- when they smelled blood they capitalized."
After senior guard Andres Rodriguez scored at 18:29 in the first half to tie the game at 2-2, Maryland ran off 27 straight points while holding AU scoreless for 14:45. Senior forward Jernavis Draughn finally ended the drought with a put-back at 3:44 to make the score 29-4. For Maryland, center Jamar Smith scored eight points during the run, while forward Nik Caner-Medley added seven. The two finished with 14 and nine points, respectively.
AU finally found its offense in the second half, but by that time over four minutes had elapsed in the second half, and Maryland had built a staggering 51-10 lead. Freshman guard Andre Ingram scored 16 second-half points, after going 0-for-4 from the floor in the first, to finish as the Eagles' leading scorer. Rodriguez added 13 points in a more consistent effort, with nine of those coming in the second half.
"We didn't want to give up, we just wanted to keep playing hard," said Ingram of the much more even second half. "I thought we got out of our offense a bit. We needed to settle down and execute, and we did, but it was much too late."
The Eagles turned the ball over 23 times in total, leading to 34 Maryland points. AU was outscored in the paint 50-14 and finished the game with only 27 percent shooting from the floor, while Maryland finished with a respectable 45 percent. The Eagles did outshoot the Terrapins from three-point range, going 8-for-24 compared to 6-for-22.
For Maryland, Smith had 12 rebounds along with his 14 points points to lead the Terrapins. Guards Chris McCray and Mike Jones each added 10 points.
AU looks to reverse its fortunes on Tuesday, Nov. 25 in its home opener against Delaware. The game tips off at 7 p.m. at Bender Arena, leaving the Eagles no time to dwell on the disappointment of their opener.
Then again, if Jones words were any indication, AU will be in no hurry to physically or mentally relive Saturday night.
"I'm just glad it's over," Jones said.