COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Archie Miller buckled to his knees in frustration.
An Indiana second-half foul on a Maryland three-point attempt at the end of the shot clock that couldn’t happen had happened.
A rebound that could have been grabbed wasn’t.
Indiana’s coach struggled to watch.
He had screamed for defense, pushed for rebounding and poise and toughness, and, in so many ways for the first 20 minutes Friday night, the No. 22 Hoosiers had delivered.
Did they ever.
Then it disappeared at Xfinity Center, and so did Cream ‘n Crimson chances.
IU lost 78-75, ruining a start to remember, offensive road efficiency to relish and big-time scoring from freshman guard Romeo Langford.
“It was very disappointing,” Miller told Voice of the Hoosiers Don Fischer in the post-game radio show. “Our guys did some really good things in the first half, they played a really good half, especially on the road. The guys worked hard. We were playing the right way.
“Things got out of kilter in the second half. We had some tough challenged (offensive) plays that led to (Maryland) transition. The whole key was their offensive rebounding. We could not get a rebound.”
Maryland’s formidable size advantage featured six players 6-8 or taller. It was led by the 6-10, 240-pound Fernando, who averaged a double-double at 14.2 points and 10.1 rebounds. The Terrapins led the Big Ten in rebound margin, and ranked fourth nationally.
The Hoosiers never solved that problem. They were out-rebounded 42-25, including 18-3 on offensive boards.
“We knew how difficult it was going to be,” Miller told Fischer about the Terrapins’ rebounding prowess. “You knew that sometimes they would get (the rebound). They’re gifted. They’re talented at it.
“But there also would be some 50-50 rebound opportunities. We didn’t get them when we needed to. On the road, you’re not going to get away from that. That was the difference in the game.”
Langford took charge with 20 second-half points and finished with 28 on 8-for-14 shooting, including 3-for-6 from three-point range. He was 9-for-9 from the line.
It wasn’t enough.
“Romeo has been very good,” Miller told Fischer. “He did a nice job leading into this week. He played very hard. He shot well and got to the line.”
IU shot 49.1 percent from the field, committed just seven turnovers and was 16-for-16 from the line. Juwan Morgan had 14 points and eight rebounds. Devonte Green had 15 points. Justin Smith and Aljami Durham each had eight points.
It wasn’t enough.
“We had different guys step up and play,” Miller told Fischer. “We only turned it over seven times on the road and made our free throws. We shot a good percentage. “But we didn’t rebound.”
IU’s second straight road loss dropped it to 12-4 overall, 3-2 in the Big Ten.
Maryland (14-3, 5-1) was led by Fernando (25 points, 13 rebounds) and guard Anthony Cowan (24 points, seven assists).
The good news — Indiana finally regained its open-the-game-strong form, and for a while, a huge road victory was within reach.
Freshman guard Rob Phinisee returned from a concussion after a three-game absence, and if he wasn’t back to beat-Butler form, that wasn’t the point.
Getting him back in the rotation was.
Green was an early offensive beast.
Morgan was an inside catalyst.
It wasn’t enough.
Maryland unleashed a 16-0 run early in the second half to obliterate what had once been a 14-point Hoosier lead.
IU was left to wonder what might have been.
Miller pointed to forward Justin Smith’s foul trouble that limited him to 22 minutes.
“What really hurt us was Justin Smith’s unfortunate fouls,” Miller told Fischer. “When he was on the floor, we were plus 22 in the game. His inability to stay in there, those fouls, hurt us.”
IU’s slow-start pattern instantly became ancient history.
The Hoosiers delivered a 9-0 opening punch, then boosted it to 14-2. It came from balanced offense – four players contributed to that scoring – and stingy defense (holding Maryland to 1-for-7 shooting with two turnovers).
Indiana’s attack-the-basket approach had the Terrapins reeling early. It pushed to a pair of 14-point leads, the last at 28-14.
Then came a scoring drought of more than four minutes. Maryland found its offense and scored 13 of the half’s next 17 points to close within five before guard Durham’s three-pointer gave the Hoosiers a 35-27 halftime lead.
Maryland had a 10-1 edge in offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes.
How many points did the Terrapins score off that advantage?
Maryland opened the second half on a 6-2 run. Miller called a timeout to try to blunt the Terrapins’ momentum.
It didn’t work.
Maryland scored 10 more points to IU’s none. The Hoosiers were 0-for-9 from the field in that stretch.
Morgan finally broke the drought with a basket.
Then Langford got hot. Indiana refused to go away.
It wasn’t enough.
“It comes down to simple things – rebound, don’t turn it over, play good defense,” Miller said. “We had some of those things. The one thing we couldn’t get a grip on was the glass.”
IU will seek to find that grip on Monday, when it hosts Nebraska.
“Our team has to have great resolve,” Miller told Fischer. “This league can really overwhelm you if get caught up on things. We have Nebraska on Monday. That’s our focus. We’re looking forward to playing at home.”