The Scarlet Knights threw their best haymaker, and it just wasn't enough tonight.
Rutgers came out scorching hot in both the first and second half, and at one point lead the game by 6 with under 7 minutes left, but could not convert at the free throw line or get the key rebounds it needed.
The #14 Maryland Terrapins were able to take advantage with a few big three point shots from Jared Nickens and put Rutgers away.
Myles Mack was everything Rutgers needed and more, hitting three after three after three. He lead the Scarlet Knights with 19 and did not want to lose. He played as well as he did against Wisconsin, and tried to win the game on his own. It looked like upset city, but Maryland woke up with about six minute remaining and took the over the game.
The key sequence happened right around that moment. Junior Etou drew a foul and missed both free throws. He then missed a wide open lay-up. Maryland didn't miss much after that.
Rutgers was flummoxed often by Jake Layman who could hit the three--(Maryland made 11)--and when Rutgers jumped to close out, he was able to drive by them for easy lay-ins. Once they went up four with about two minutes left, the Terrapins bore down on defense and stopped Rutgers.
But, again, the story was missed free throws and too many offensive rebounds given up. Maryland out-offensive rebounded Rutgers 16-5. The endgame execution was lacking tonight, and when the Maryland arena got loud, Rutgers got rattled.
However, there is a bright side. This is clearly a team that, while undermanned, is starting to believe in itself and believe it can win. The team is giving coach Eddie Jordan something he can sell to recruits. He can start to show them his formula works. But this still can't be a flash in a pan. The Scarlet Knight squad has to play this well the rest of the way.
They sit at 2-3 in the Big Ten, but playing way over the way everyone expected. The last two minutes of this game were deflating, but in some ways leave fans with hope. Minnesota awaits on Saturday afternoon. They sit at 0-5 in the Big Ten, and Rutgers needs to bring its A+ game still.
There's time left for Rutgers. Maybe--after tonight--they're just getting started. And if they keep playing this way, they have a puncher's chance.