UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Maryland men's basketball team was flat at Monday's practice.
After losing its second Big Ten game to Purdue on Saturday, the Terps made sloppy passes, missed shots and weren't communicating. That lack of intensity in training carried into Maryland's contest against Penn State on Tuesday night.
While the Terps have often made up for errant passes, unwarranted jump shots and missed rebounds with late comebacks, those problems persisted for 40 minutes Tuesday.
Coach Mark Turgeon expected his squad to come out determined after Saturday's loss, but it instead put together one of its worst performances in Big Ten play. The No. 21 Terps' 70-64 defeat in front of 7,063 fans at Bryce Jordan Center marked their first consecutive losses this season and their first defeat away from Xfinity Center in 10 tries.
"They deserved to win," Turgeon said. "Most games we've really competed … and stuck together. Tonight just didn't have that feel. It wasn't a fun night."
Forward Lamar Stevens led the Nittany Lions' upset victory with a game-high 25 points. Forward Justin Jackson (14 points) and guards Kevin Huerter (12) and Melo Trimble (11) tried to help Maryland, which shot 34 percent, keep pace.
Maryland (20-4, 8-3 Big Ten) settled for jump shots and was sloppy with the ball in the first half, problems that have sometimes surfaced early in contests. Trimble, who scored his 1,500th-career point with his and-one layup and free throw in the opening two minutes, scored eight of Maryland's first 10 points, though, managed one in the second half.
The Terps turned the ball over nine times in the opening 20 minutes and never settled into their offense. Maryland shot 17 percent from three in the frame, less than half their season average.
Maryland's previous three wins over Penn State (13-12, 5-7 Big Ten) since joining the Big Ten were decided by six or fewer points. Trimble said the Nittany Lions are hard to stop when they gain momentum. The Terps led for just 19 seconds Tuesday.
"We talked about that before the game – the energy we had to bring in this game," Trimble said. "You practice how you play. We just played with no energy, and we couldn't adjust."
Maryland often recovers from poor starts in the final 20 minutes, but as the final period wore on and the Terps failed to solve their problems, another loss loomed.
One of Maryland's positives in the first half came on the boards — the Terps outrebounded Penn State, 22-15 — but the Nittany Lions bullied the Terps in the paint in the second frame.
Every time the Terps went on a run to come back from their 14-point deficit, they made a mistake to halt their momentum. Turgeon texted his players about staying resilient after his team's loss Saturday, but Maryland couldn't muster the stamina to erase Penn State's lead.
"There was always that one play that if we made it, maybe we could've cut the momentum," Huerter said. "We're going to have to definitely clean those up this week."
The Terps seemed to gain some energy when forward L.G. Gill made Maryland's first field of the second period at the 13:22 mark and Huerter followed with a 3-pointer. But the Nittany Lions responded with a 6-0 run, forcing Turgeon to call a timeout.
Forward Ivan Bender missed an open layup in the middle to halt another six-point stretch later in the frame.
The Terps' last 6-0 surge came with about three minutes remaining. But Penn State guard Nazeer Bostick ended it with an offensive rebound and dunk before swatting guard Anthony Cowan's shot, sending the freshman to the ground, on the ensuing possession.
Cowan laid on the court for about four seconds before returning to his feet, looking as dejected as his team after its puzzling defeat.
"When you have bad practices and then don't have a lot of energy to come out and start a game against a team that's hungry in their own building," Huerter said, "these type of games are going to happen."