The Hokies fell into a tie for last place in the ACC with a devastating 60-55 loss to Maryland on Thursday night in Blacksburg.
“We just didn’t make the plays to win,” head coach James Johnson said. “Maryland’s a big, strong, and physical team.”
Once again, Erick Green carried the offensive burden for the team, pouring in 29 points, while Cadarian Raines continued his string of recent success with a 14-point effort.
“We have got to get more guys to step up, we’ve got to play harder,” Green said. “At the end, I’ve got to make more plays.”
Green hit a shot with 1:20 left to draw the Hokies (11-11, 2-7 ACC) within one point, but a pair of free throws by imposing Terrapin center Alex Len sealed the win for Maryland.
“It’s good to see the team continue to compete, continue to play hard and put ourselves in the position to win,” Johnson said. “We just don’t have enough to finish.”
The Terps (16-6, 4-5 ACC) started the game with a 14-4 run starting at the 17-minute mark, and looked dominant for much of the first half.
Maryland would lead by as much as 11 before the Hokies came roaring back behind an offensive explosion by Green. He scored seven points on the fast break alone to key a 14-3 run that tied the game at 24.
“I had some fire,” Green said. “Guys were out there talking a little bit of stuff to me so that brought some fire to me.”
With two minutes left in the half, he hit a three to give Tech its first lead of the game, 27-24, a score that held going into halftime.
However, the Terps came out firing with a 9-0 run to open the second half and reclaim a 29-27 advantage.
Tech stayed patient, and battled on the boards to stay in the game, totaling 18 offensive rebounds in the match.
Raines contributed five boards and five blocks in addition to his double digit scoring, which was a huge help against Maryland’s superior size.
“I know I can score the ball, I don’t care who guards me,” Raines said.
His interior dominance sparked an 8-2 run with 11 minutes to go that helped the Hokies draw within striking distance as the game neared its end.
The teams traded baskets as the game wound down, but a Green’s jumper with a little over a minute remaining gave the Hokies hope.
But Maryland’s offense would be too much, as a late slew of free throws sealed Tech’s fate.
The Hokies were playing with a shortened bench, as they were without backup guard Marquis Rankin due to the flu, while C.J. Barksdale also played sparingly due to illness.
“I think we showed that we’re tough and we’ve got a lot of pride,” Raines said. “We try to go hard, to get every rebound, we try to defend Cassell.”
Despite the loss, the team played well defensively. Jake Layman led the Terps with 14 points, while Len tallied 10.
However, it was the Hokies own offense that betrayed them, as Robert Brown and Jarrell Eddie each only scored two points.
“I think they played well, but I thought we had it,” Raines said. “We just started off slow again in the second half and it got us.”
The team won’t have much time to reflect on the loss, with its next home game coming quickly.
“This team is getting better,” Johnson said. “It’s not showing up with the wins, but it’s getting better.”
The Hokies will stay at home to take on Georgia Tech on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m.