BLACKSBURG – Erick Green came up with another big game for Virginia Tech, but the Hokies couldn’t make enough plays down the stretch and fell to Maryland 60-55 in an ACC game played Thursday night at Cassell Coliseum.
The loss marked Tech’s fifth straight, as the Hokies fell to 11-11 overall, 2-7 in the ACC. Maryland won its second straight game and its second road game this season, moving to 17-6, 5-5 in the league.
For the Hokies, this was a much better performance than their one on Jan. 5 in College Park (a 94-71 Maryland victory). But Tech wasn’t in the mood for moral victories.
“No, no satisfaction,” Tech coach James Johnson said. “I do think that this team is getting better. It’s not showing up with the wins and that’s frustrating and I know it’s frustrating for the guys.
“It’s not refreshing that we played well and lost. But it’s good to see that we continued to compete and continued to play hard and put ourselves in position to win. We just don’t have enough guys playing well enough to finish.”
Tech trailed by as many as 11 in the first half, but closed the half with a 17-3 run and led 27-24 at the break. The Terrapins, however, opened the second half with a 14-3 run to take the lead for good. They hit six of their first eight shots from the floor in the second half, including a 3-pointer and a short jumper by Jake Layman, and they took a 38-30 lead with 15:12 left on a 3-pointer by Dez Wells.
Tech stayed in the game behind Green, the nation’s leading scorer at 25 points per game coming into this one. Green scored 13 of his game-high 29 points in the second half, and his jumper with 1:28 left cut the Maryland lead to 54-53.
But Alex Len’s two free throws with 58.4 seconds left gave Maryland a 56-53 edge. After Virginia Tech’s Robert Brown missed a jumper in the lane, Maryland’s Nick Faust hit two free throws with 28 seconds left to push the lead to 58-53.
“They did a good job defensively on Green and left Brown open,” Johnson said. “That’s basically the same shot he hit in the Wake Forest game (which was the game winner), driving to his left and getting into the lane, and tonight, it fell short.”
The Hokies got two free throws from Green with 9.6 seconds left to cut the lead to 58-55. But Seth Allen made one of two free throws with 8.3 seconds left to seal it for the Terrapins.
“I feel like this is Shawshank Redemption,” Johnson said. “I love that movie, and every time it’s on, I watch it. I see the same thing, and I know you guys (the media) hear the same thing (from him). It was another hard-fought game. We had a chance to win, were in position to win and didn’t make the plays to win.
“We had the opportunities. We didn’t make the plays, and we didn’t finish the game.”
Layman led Maryland with 14 points, hitting 5 of 11 from the floor, including three 3-pointers. Maryland had a balanced attack, with five players scoring seven points or more. Len finished with 10 points and five rebounds, while Wells added eight points and James Padgett scored eight points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. The Terrapins out-rebounded the Hokies 46-38.
Maryland, which came into the game ranked fourth nationally in field-goal percentage defense (36.3 percent), held the cold-shooting Hokies to just 33.8 percent (22 of 65). Virginia Tech hit just two field goals in the final 6:39.
Green connected on 10 of 23 from the floor for the Hokies, and Cadarian Raines, who scored 14 points, hit 7 of 13 from the floor. But the rest of the team combined for just five baskets.
The Hokies will try to get back on the winning track on Saturday afternoon when they take on Georgia Tech. Tip-off for the game is slated for 1 p.m.
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