Maryland men’s basketball’s late comeback attempt falls short in 64-61 loss to Davidson

Jahmir Young dribbles against Davidson on Nov. 10, 2023 | Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Kevin Willard said after Maryland men’s basketball’s season-opening win against Mount St. Mary’s that he wanted his team’s spacing to improve. The Terps shot 3-of-16 from three in the 15-point win.

While the coach had the right idea, it didn’t exactly manifest on the court.

The Terps (1-1) combined to shoot 5-of-23 from deep against Davidson (2-0), good for 21.7 percent. Noah Batchelor, DeShawn Harris-Smith and Jamie Kaiser Jr. each airballed open threes in the left corner, two of them off of Julian Reese passes out of the post. 

The aforementioned trio plus Donta Scott shot a combined 2-for-15 from behind the arc.  When the Wildcats brought double teams onto Maryland’s star big man, the Terps failed to capitalize.

Reese and Jahmir Young tried to keep Maryland afloat. Reese had 10 second-half points and Young converted a huge and-one to tie the game with 38 seconds remaining. But the team’s shooting woes were too much to overcome, as the Terps fell, 64-61, suffering their first loss of the season.

Maryland cut its rotation by two players and played significantly smaller than it did against The Mount. 

Reese played 35 minutes and in the five non-Reese minutes, Willard elected to have no center in the game. The coach was looking for more shooting and versatility — 6-foot-11 bigs Caelum-Swanton Rodger and Mady Traore didn’t see the court after playing 11 and 10 minutes respectively on Tuesday.

Young kept the Terps alive in the first half — he was responsible for half of the team’s 32 points as he scored 10 points and dished out three assists. He also hit two of his four first-half threes, looking confident and unafraid to launch from deep. 

But the fifth-year guard sputtered in the second half, shooting 2-for-7 and recording just eight points in the final 20 minutes of play. 

Reese, after having just three first-half shot attempts, came out aggressive after the break. He ended the night with 12 shot attempts, including nine in the second period, for 16 points.

Batchelor and Jahari Long played extensive time on the wing, seeing important minutes down the stretch. Long was 1-for-4 from the field but had a strong defensive presence.

On the flip side, Davidson looked about as fundamentally sound as a team could possibly look through two games. The Wildcats shot 53 percent from three and recorded 15 assists, swinging the ball from side to side to cause Maryland defensive miscues. The team consistently pounced on sleeping defenders through backdoor cuts and late crashing for offensive rebounds — they had seven in the first half alone.

Jordan Geronimo received his second-straight start to begin the season, manning the forward spot alongside Donta Scott. Yet the Indiana transfer was benched to begin the second half after taking just one shot and holding a -6 plus-minus. 

But after checking back into the game, Geronimo made his presence known. During a four-minute sequence in the middle of the second half, the forward recorded a dunk, a block and an offensive rebound leading to a foul on the putback. His energy seemed to be infectious, as it kept Maryland’s deficit from extending into dangerous territory. 

Geronimo didn’t sub back out until the nine-minute mark of the second half, when the Terps were within arms’ reach of taking back the lead — they hadn’t led since the final five minutes of the first half.

The Terps came storming back late in the second half, tying the game at 61 in the final minute of regulation after Young’s three-point play. But freshman Bobby Durkin, who haunted Maryland with four clutch threes, once again came through, drilling a corner three to clinch the Wildcats’ victory.

The Terps will look to bounce back in the Asheville Championship on Sunday against the winner of the Clemson and UAB contest.

Posted by Harrison Rich