Maryland men’s basketball suffers third straight defeat, falls 57-40 to No. 21 Villanova

Kevin Willard against Mount St. Mary’s on Nov. 7, 2023 | Photo courtesy of Mackenzie Miles/Maryland Athletics

Maryland men’s basketball’s offense had been struggling heading into Friday’s road test against No. 21 Villanova. Through their first three games, the Terps shot just 40.5 percent from the field and 22.6 percent from beyond the arc. It was no secret they would need to shoot the ball better to rebound from an 0-2 showing in the Asheville Championship.

Somehow, they shot substantially worse. Maryland made just 24 percent of its total shots and 19 percent from beyond the arc in a 57-40 loss to the Wildcats at the Finneran Pavilion on Friday. Those numbers would look even worse had it not been for a few garbage time buckets after both teams emptied their benches.

After a TJ Bamba layup with 13:18 remaining, Villanova did not make another field goal until there was less than a minute on the clock, and it didn’t matter – the Wildcats were in full control from start to finish. 

Jamie Kaiser Jr. made his first career start on Friday after the freshman forward played a career-high 22 minutes in Sunday’s loss to UAB. Kevin Willard has used three different starting lineup combinations through the first four games.

Kaiser played 18 minutes and went 0-for-4 from deep.

Villanova buried three pointers on each of its first two possessions of the game and opened up a 13-2 lead before the first media timeout. The Wildcats never looked back; they shot 6-for-11 from beyond the arc in the first half and took a 39-15 lead into the break.

Maryland’s offense looked completely dysfunctional in the halfcourt. Villanova coach Kyle Neptune threw different looks at Julian Reese, while the Wildcats used their guards to deny entry passes to the junior big man. The Terps often panicked when they couldn’t feed their preseason All-Big Ten selection inside. Numerous possessions ended in shot-clock violations or desperation heaves as time expired.

A break in the locker room at halftime did little to solve Maryland’s problems, as Villanova opened the second half on a 7-0 run and forced Willard to call an early timeout. As the clock dipped under the 10-minute mark, Maryland still had just 19 points on the board.

Villanova’s lead grew as large as 32 points, and the Terps slowly chipped into the deficit after both teams turned to their benches late. But the game was never close to being in doubt. 

Willard said he didn’t think Maryland would be a “terrific” shooting team leading into Friday, but that they would shoot better than they did through the first three games.

Outside of Jahmir Young and Donta Scott, the Terps shot 0-for-14 from deep. 

If there’s any positives Willard can take away from Friday, it’s that Reese looked more comfortable at the line, where he shot 6-for-8. Although the game was well out of hand, Maryland’s full court pressure generated a lot of turnovers in the second half – they forced 17 in the game.

Maryland won just one road game last season. A win over a ranked opponent in a hostile environment could have served as a lifeboat and given the Terps a quality win that would hold value up until Selection Sunday. Instead, a nightmarish loss has sent the wheels falling off a Maryland squad that had high expectations entering the season.

Posted by Hayden Sweeney