Maryland failed its first true test of the season. It hopes to do better in the second.
The 21st-ranked Terrapins look to bounce back from their first loss when they face Wisconsin on Wednesday in the third-place game of the Maui Invitational.
After winning its first three games against some weaker opponents by an average of 31.4 points and then rolling to a 79-51 opening-round win at Maui over Division II host Chaminade on Monday, Maryland (4-1) looked like a different team in a 69-57 loss to upstart Cincinnati in the tournament semifinals Tuesday.
Instead of facing Gonzaga for the Maui title, the Terrapins will have to settle for third place if they can beat Wisconsin (3-1), which fell 74-61 to the Bulldogs on Tuesday.
In order to salvage a winning trip to Hawaii, Maryland will likely need to show improvement after shooting a season-low 35.8 percent from the field, including 2 for 14 from 3-point range, against the Bearcats.
Maryland went six minutes without scoring in the first half and fell into a deep hole after Cincinnati used a 14-0 run to take a 25-11 lead. The Terps were outrebounded 47-33 by the Bearcats, who knocked off No. 24 Vanderbilt a day earlier.
“You’re trying to teach as you go,” said Maryland coach Gary Williams, who returns three starters from a team that finished 21-14 and lost to Memphis in the second round of last season’s NCAA tournament.
One of those starters is talented guard Greivis Vasquez, who scored 19 points Tuesday to reach double digits for the first time this season.
Vasquez, who many believe has a chance to be a solid NBA player, finally broke out after scoring a combined 30 points in the first four games. He averaged 17.2 points over his previous two seasons.
Despite his game-high point total Tuesday, Vasquez went 5 for 17 from the field while missing all five 3-point attempts to continue to early season shooting woes. He’s shooting 29.8 percent, something he’ll likely have to improve while facing another strong defensive team in Wisconsin.
The Badgers are looking to bounce back after allowing a season-high point total against Gonzaga, which became the first team in four games to shoot better than 37.0 percent (47.2 percent) against them.
Sophomore Jordan Taylor scored a game-high 19 points off the bench and Jon Leuer added 18 for the Badgers, who didn’t help themselves by shooting 39.0 percent.
Trying to rally most of the night, Wisconsin cut Gonzaga’s lead to 10 four times and finally trimmed it to single digits with just over nine minutes to play, but it didn’t make another basket for the next 7 1/2 minutes.
Averaging a team-leading 14.3 points, Trevon Hughes was held to 10 after scoring 24 in Monday’s 65-61 opening-round win over Arizona.
Wisconsin leads 4-2 in the all-time series with Maryland. The Badgers won 69-64 at home in the teams’ most recent meeting Nov. 30, 2004.