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Men’s Basketball

Trouble continues with Terrapins

| Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Notre Dame dropped its third straight game for the first time since the 2009-10 season on Wednesday night as the Irish fell 74-66 at Maryland.

 Irish freshman guard Demetrius Jackson dribbles the ball during Notre Dame’s 80-75 victory over Delaware in the Purcell Pavilion on Dec. 7. Jackson had six points and three assists during Wednesday’s loss to Maryland. Zach Llorens

Irish freshman guard Demetrius Jackson dribbles the ball during Notre Dame’s 80-75 victory over Delaware in the Purcell Pavilion on Dec. 7. Jackson had six points and three assists during Wednesday’s loss to Maryland.

 The Terrapins (11-7, 3-2 ACC) rallied from a 34-25 halftime deficit to surge past the Irish (10-7, 1-3) in the second half. Maryland utilized a 16-2 run at the start of the half to take a 41-36 advantage and never relinquished the lead.

Notre Dame did not score after halftime until 13:19 remained in regulation as the Terrapins controlled possession due to Irish turnovers and strong rebounding. Maryland outrebounded the Irish 40-31 on the evening.

“They have 20 offensive rebounds; I think it was really hard for us to absorb that,” Irish coach Mike Brey told UND.com after the game. “We were in position, but I thought second shots in their second-half run really hurt us.”

Brey earned a technical foul in the middle of the run – when the Irish were up 36-35 – after Irish sophomore forward Zach Auguste elicited an offensive foul call. Unlike last season’s 51-42 win at Pittsburgh, in which the Irish used a Brey technical to spark a turnaround after a lethargic start, momentum did not shift back to Notre Dame’s favor.

Maryland junior guard/forward Dez Wells scored 17 points – all in the second half – including two free throws with 2:21 left to give the Terrapins a 66-55 lead. The Irish made a late comeback effort to cut the deficit to 66-61 before Maryland junior guard Nick Faust buried a 3-pointer to push the margin to 69-61 with 1:16 left. Irish sophomore forward Austin Burgett countered with a 3-pointer of his own on the next trip down the floor, but Notre Dame would add only two more points the rest of the game.

While Maryland had a strong second half run to take control of the game, the Irish had one of their own in the first half. After falling behind 10-4, Notre Dame used a 22-4 run to take a 26-14 lead with 8:26 remaining in the opening period.

Irish junior forward Pat Connaughton scored 15 points in the first half to pace the Notre Dame attack. Connaughton shot 5-for-7 from the field and 3-for-4 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes. Notre Dame as a team was also red-hot in the first half, shooting 58.3 percent. But turnovers – Notre Dame totaled 17 on the night – prevented the Irish from blowing the game open.

“I love how we played in the first half, but we still had nine turnovers, so that really hurt us,” Brey said.

Connaughton added just four points in the second half – all on free throws. Irish senior center Garrick Sherman shot 9-for-12 on the night for 18 points, but contributed zero rebounds in the second half after tallying six in the opening 20 minutes.

Irish freshman guard Steve Vasturia scored just one point in his first career start and brought down four rebounds, while fellow freshman guard Demetrius Jackson provided six points to go with three rebounds and three assists. Wednesday’s game marked the first time since Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson started in the 2006-07 campaign that Notre Dame started two freshmen in the same game.

The Irish now return home to Purcell Pavilion – the site of their only conference win this season – on Sunday after three straight road losses for a critical contest against Virginia Tech, as Notre Dame tries to keep pace in the NCAA tournament picture.

“[Sunday] becomes a big one for us,” Brey said. “You’ve got to get back to 2-3 in the league; you’ve got to remember what it’s like to win a league game. We’ll have a Virginia Tech team that comes in that’s very athletic and gets up on the backboard, so keeping them away from second shots [is key] and we’ve got to take better care of the ball. But we’ll be excited to play on Sunday. There’s a lot of basketball season left.”

Contact Sam Gans at sgans@nd.edu

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