No. 23 Maryland to play Loyola of Chicago in Baltimore
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
It almost looks like a misprint on 23rd-ranked Maryland's basketball schedule -- Loyola in Baltimore, followed by Loyola of Baltimore.
The Terrapins (7-2) "host" 2018 NCAA Tournament darlings Loyola of Chicago Saturday at 4 p.m., in Baltimore's Royal Farms Arena, and then turn around and host the in-state Loyola on Monday in their home Xfinity Center. If Maryland hopes to stay in the national polls for a third straight week, the Terrapins better find ways to win after dropping two of their last three, including Thursday's 62-60 Big Ten Conference setback at Purdue.
The Ramblers (5-4), who made a memorable run to the Final Four last season, know the feeling. Loyola of Chicago has lost three of the last four and suffered from the same malady as Maryland - an inability to consistently put the ball in the basket. Loyola shot a chilly 40 percent Wednesday in a 75-69 home loss to Ball State, and are shooting just 32 percent from 3-point range on the season.
"We didn't shoot a great percentage," said Loyola coach Porter Moser Wednesday night. "But we had our opportunities...there's nights you're going to make a lot (of shots), there's nights you're not. You still have to find a way to win."
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon had the same message for his team following the Terrapins' first Big Ten loss. Maryland held Purdue without a field goal the last 5:18 on the road, but the Terrapins couldn't get their own offense going either. All-Big Ten guard Anthony Cowan's three at the buzzer was blocked as the Terps connected on just four of 14 shots behind the arc (28.6 percent) in the second half, after a torrid start and an eight-point lead in the first half.
"I can handle not scoring, but I would like to be able to get a little better looks than we were getting," admitted Turgeon. "But give (Purdue) credit. They took us out of everything...It felt like there were six guys out there. They were everywhere."
The Terrapins are still averaging 78.4 points per game, but have had their three lowest scoring outputs in the last three games, a 76-71 loss to No. 4 Virginia, a 66-59 home win over Penn State and the 59 points at Purdue.
Part of the problem is Maryland's youth. The Terrapins start two freshmen and two sophomores around Cowan, a junior, and the first three players off the bench are also freshmen. "We didn't pay with poise," said Turgeon after the loss to the Boilermakers. "We didn't coach with poise."
While Turgeon adjusts to all the youngsters on his roster and searches for the right combinations, Moser is adapting to life without key cog Lucas Williamson, a sophomore guard who broke his hand in a Nov. 27 loss to Nevada. Williamson was averaging 8.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists, and won't be back until January. He was also one of the Ramblers' best 3-point threats, hitting 37.9 percent through the first seven games.
Marques Townes, a 6-4 transfer from Fairleigh-Dickinson, leads the team with 14.8 points, and joins 6-1 senior Clayton Custer, the reigning Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, to form a dangerous perimeter tandem. Custer is averaging 14 points.
Sophomore center Cameron Krutwig stepped up against Ball State, racking up 19 points and eight rebounds. The 6-9 Krutwig, the MVC Freshman of the Year last season, will have his hands full against Maryland's Terrapin Towers, 6-10 sophomore Bruno Fernando and 6-10 freshman Jalen Smith. Behind those two, the Terrapins are out-rebounding opponents by nearly five boards per game, and Fernando is averaging 14.7 points and 10.3 rebounds, while Smith chips in 12.0 and 7.4, and seems to get better every contest.
This is the first meeting of the two programs, but Loyola, counting last year's amazing 32-6 season has won four of its last six games against Top 25 opponents, and 10 of the last 12 games on neutral courts. Loyola became just the fourth 11th seed to ever reach the Final Four in 2018, jointing LSU in 1986, George Mason in 2006, and VCU in 2011.
Updated December 8, 2018