Clifton Park, New York, native Kevin Huerter had the best shooting performance of his career in front of his home state.
The only problem was that the Maryland Terrapins habit of turning over the basketball sullied Huerter’s homecoming.
Despite leading all scorers with 23 points, the Terps fell to Syracuse in the Big Ten/ACC matchup Monday night, 72-70.
There was just a one-point difference between the two teams for the majority of the second half, but Syracuse took the lead in the final five minutes and didn’t give it up for the remainder of the game.
Huerter played for nearly the entire game, shooting 7-of-9 from the beyond the arc. With Syracuse playing their typical zone defense, many of his shots came from well beyond the 3-point line.
Syracuse was led by guards Tyus Battle and Frank Howard, who finished the game with 18 and 15 points, respectively. Syracuse was most dangerous in the paint, where it outscored Maryland 42-20.
Maryland had three players finish in double figures. Sophomore point guard Anthony Cowan had 11 points on 33 percent shooting, while freshman forward Bruno Fernando added 13 points. Fernando was also a defensive force, with three blocks and four steals.
However, Huerter was the player the Terps turned to when they needed a big shot. Huerter had two threes in the final two minutes — one that gave Maryland a one-point lead and another that cut Syracuse’s lead to one point with seven seconds left.
But turnovers, the statistic that has been a problem for Maryland throughout the early season, continued to trip up the Terps. Maryland had 18 turnovers in the game, including two in the final minute that ultimately sealed the game.
There were 20 lead changes and 15 ties in the game, seven of which came in the first half. It wasn’t until there were 7:38 left in the half that Syracuse separated itself from Maryland with an 8-0 run to make the score 32-25.
It was then that Huerter started to heat up. Huerter knocked down a three to break up Syracuse’s run, and he hit another to give Maryland a 33-32 lead.
Syracuse’s Paschal Chukwu and Marek Dolezaj hit a pair of layups to regain the lead, and the team held a 36-35 lead at halftime.
With five minutes left in the second half, Syracuse held onto its one-point lead, 62-61. Three minutes later, Huerter hit another three to give Maryland a 66-65 lead.
Again, Syracuse responded, this time with a 5-0 run, including a 3-pointer from Battle with less than a minute left to retake the lead.
The Terps were down 68-66 with 30 seconds left, but two back-to-back turnovers doomed the team as Syracuse turned its two-point lead into a four-point lead.
Huerter wasn’t done, though. With seven seconds left, the sophomore knocked down yet another 3-pointer to cut Syracuse’s lead to 69-70. But with Maryland having to foul on every possession, Syracuse hit its free throws to keep the lead away from Maryland’s grasp.
Maryland will return to the Xfinity Center Dec. 1 to begin conference play against No. 18 Purdue. Maryland will hope to gain some momentum in the Big Ten, as seven of its next eight games are at home.
Tipoff against Purdue will be at 7 p.m.
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