COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Maryland lived and died by the 3-pointer Wednesday night, but the Michigan men’s basketball team wasn’t able to take advantage with its own hot shooting from beyond the arc.
The Terrapins shot 9.1 percent from beyond the arc in the first half, while the Wolverines made a season-high six threes. The contrast helped the Wolverines build a 35-29 halftime lead.
But in the second half, Maryland caught fire from 3-point range, shooting 40 percent to rally and defeat Michigan 75-70 at the Comcast Center. It was the first halftime lead Michigan has lost this season.
The Terrapins began the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game right out of the break. The shots by junior guards Greivis Vasquez and Eric Hayes ignited a previously tame crowd and started a 16-3 run to open the half.
“We’d like to take those first three or four minutes of the second half out,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “Maybe you don’t win the game, maybe you lose at the buzzer. But you just let them take over the game at that time.”
Michigan (5-2) thrived from beyond the arc all night, but used the 3-pointer to stick around in the second frame rather than continuing to build on its lead. Five minutes into the half, freshman Zack Novak put an end to the Terrapin run with a three from the corner and made it a four-point play with a trip to the foul line. Novak went 4-for-8 from the field and had a career-high 12 points.
“We regather our poise after they went on that big run and fought back,” Novak said. “I mean, we’re not going to quit.”
The game went back and forth for the rest of the second half, and the Terrapins didn’t pull away until late. With four minutes left in the game, Maryland’s Landon Milbourne slammed home an emphatic dunk, giving the Terrapins a 65-61 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Even with the game out of reach in the final minutes, Wright and sophomore Kelvin Grady hit shots from beyond the arc to keep Michigan close. Wright’s three with 12 seconds left brought the game to within three points, 73-70. The Wolverines ended up shooting a season-best 41.4 percent from 3-point range on the night.
One reason Maryland (5-2) was able to sustain its lead late in the game was accurate foul shooting. Michigan fouled the Terrapins 11 times in the second half, and Maryland converted 16 free throws after taking just two shots from the charity stripe in the first half.
Maryland employed a full-court press throughout the game, learning from Michigan’s struggles against pressure from Savannah State last Saturday. The Tigers forced 19 Michigan turnovers in that game.
“What happened was they were able to score baskets (in the second half) and they really set (the full court press) better,” Beilein said. “What they did is they made the tempo so we rushed, and then we created turnovers at the other end. They’d slow you down, and then we’d start our offense and there’d be only 18 seconds on the shot clock.”
Although Michigan looked shaky getting the ball past halfcourt, it didn’t surrender any backcourt turnovers in the first half. But in the second half, the press ignited Maryland’s comeback, frustrating Wolverine players and forcing them to cough up the ball.
With the loss, Michigan falls to 3-5 all-time in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. It’s the Wolverines’ third consecutive loss in the tournament, and they haven’t beaten an ACC opponent since 2006 when they knocked Miami out of the NIT.
“Watching Duke and Purdue last night doesn’t want me to think about Duke at all,” Beilein said.
Michigan will face another ACC foe Saturday when it rematches Duke at Crisler Arena. The Wolverines lost 71-56 to the Blue Devils two weeks ago at Madison Square Garden.
As the players filtered off the court, Maryland coach Gary Williams addressed the crowd. He told fans to stick with his team despite the ups and downs of the early season.
It’s something Beilein could echo to Michigan fans.
“We’re still searching for the right mix,” Beilein said. “I’m not sure what it is, but we’ll find it.”