The Terrapins make one more game at the end

NEW YORK – In dealing with their two-point loss to Maryland on Sunday, the Florida Gators could have lamented a handful of things. Two missed free throw situations were costly. It was the same for a few missed rabbits. There was an unnecessary technical foul for taunt. Shooting less well from inside the 3 point line than beyond, a rarity for this group, also jumped off the stats sheet.

Each played a part in the Terrapins’ 70-68 Hall of Fame Invitational victory at Barclays Center, but in the end it turned out they failed to stop when the Gators, who are proud of their defense, need one.

Junior forward Donta Scott took advantage of a gap with UF senior guard Myreon Jones into the post to throw an unbalanced, awkward angled bank shot to break a draw with 16 seconds left. At the end of UF, fifth year senior playmaker Tyree Appleby, whose 3-point second-half shot was the only reason his team was in the game, rebounded their attempt by winning the game at the end of time, handing the Gators (7-3) a third loss in four games.

Scott was the hero late in the game, but it was senior Eric Ayala’s backcourt and transfer graduate Fatts Russell that put the Terrapins (6-4) in position to end a three-game losing streak and to give interim coach Danny Manning a victory in his second game since Mark Turgeon surprised the program on Dec. 3 by dropping eight games in his 11th season. Ayala and Russell scored 19 points each, combined to pull off 13 of their 24 field goal attempts, denied their season’s difficulty from the 3-point line by making six of eight deep, and also passed at 6 for 8 free. throwing line.

“We weren’t sharp enough defensively to keep a top level backcourt like this as they played,” UF coach Mike White noted. “They were incredibly effective – 19 points each – on a low level of shooting. Our overall pressure did a good job on [UM] collectively, but I thought those guards were dealing with it. “

And manipulated the Gators.

Ayala entered the game shooting just 33.3% from the ground and 29.0 from 3 points. He went six of 11 and three of five, respectively. Russell was at 36.6 for the season and not just 26.6 percent from the arc for the season – but 28.8 percent for his 128 games. career. Russell was 7 for 13 from the floor and perfect on his three 3s.

They happen to be warming up at Florida’s expense, but it’s not like the Gators haven’t been warned.

“Our coaches did a great job telling us we have to bounce these guys off, despite their percentages,” said the UF graduate goalkeeper. Phlandrous Fleming Jr., whose 15 points and 11 rebounds gave the Charleston Southern transfer their first double-double in a Florida uniform. “As individual players these guys are really good and we didn’t do a good job in [running them off the line]. We gave them open looks and they can do them. It wasn’t a surprise because we scouted him. ”

UF swingman Phlandrous Fleming Jr. (24) scored the first double-double of his career with the Gators with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

UM achieving eight of his 13 long balls, including four of five in the second, was certainly a big factor in the result, as well as the momentum of the Maryland partisan crowd. But the games that impacted the game the most – the strongest – moved closer to the basket.

Russell’s 3-point with 6:26 remaining gave the Terps a seven-point lead, the game’s biggest for either team, at 59-52, and would be the last basket they have. touched from the outside of five feet. Appleby, who scored his 15 points in the second half, bombed three straight points to draw the Gators to less than one.

Maryland scored the next two baskets, both by Ayala in driving lay-ups, the second shooting a fourth foul on a 6-foot-11 forward. Colin Castleton (9 points, 10 rebounds), with his old-fashioned three-point game pushing the margin to six.

But the Gators came back with Fleming fouled on a 3-point attempt and making two of three free throws, then forward. Anthony Durji convert a reverse layup, with a foul and a free throw. UM’s lead was 64-63 with 2:40 to go.

When Appleby stopped and dropped a 3 in transition with 1:11 remaining, the Gators had their first lead, 66-65, since the start of the second half.

“Tire was electric on the last stretch,” White said. “He made some huge individual plays and played with a lot of heart defensively, as he always does.”

Guard point Tyree Appleby (22), here shooting at the Maryland Guard Fat Russell (4) scored his 15 points, all of five 3-pointers, in the second half and kept the Gators within striking distance.

But just 13 seconds later, the 5-11 Russell saw a lane open in the UF defense, descended the right side of the lane and threw a banker over Castleton, made contact and fouled the Gators’ best defenseman. . Russell hit the ensuing free throw to put UM back in place, 68-66, giving Maryland four “and one” conversions for the game. Apparently, the UM scouting report indicated the Gators enjoyed biting false heads.

“Whether it was poor communication or a lack of communication on a switch, we had some guard-to-guard issues in a default switch there,” White said of the defensive failures deeply embedded in the paint. “Lack of wall-ups. Leaving our fouling feet, of course. Or just Ayala and Russell just making big plays.”

Duruji’s layup with 42 seconds left evened the game and set up decisive possession, which Maryland was able to play with Castleton disqualified and on the bench. It ended with Scott’s 6-8 tied at the post against 6-3 Jones, who did a terrific job getting Scott to attempt a tough 2 point.

Scott came in, unlike Appleby’s 3-point attempt when time expired.

UF shot just 37.9% for the game, but had a record 11 marks on the 3-point line on the way to the shot at almost 42% there. Pretty good considering the Gators are in at 29.7 percent on the season and a terrible 14 of 71 in the last three games (19.7 percent).

Against Maryland, UF shot less well inside the paint (35.5%) than outside. Go figure it out.

The Terps, on the other hand, were good either way. It’ll sting a Gators team that wants to put their hat on the defensive.

“I think we played valiantly on the home stretch. Our guys kept fighting and playing games. We made some really big offensive plays individually to make it interesting, ”said White, whose team led for just 6:46 of the game. “But collectively we need to be more disciplined. It’s up to me. I have to find a way to make us perform better offensively and defensively.”

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