COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — The sellout crowd roared in anticipation as Nick Faust drove to the basket, poised to give Maryland the lead in the closing seconds against No. 4 Syracuse.
The ball was batted away by Baye Moussa Keita, and as Faust tumbled to the court, the Terrapins’ chances of pulling off an upset went down with him.
Syracuse held on for a 57-55 victory Monday night, ruining Maryland’s bid for a signature win in a frustrating season for coach Mark Turgeon.
The Orange led 51-39 with 5:45 left before the Terrapins closed to 56-55 with 47 seconds remaining. After C.J. Fair missed a jumper for the Orange, Faust was denied in his foray to the basket.
“I thought Nick got fouled and the replay showed that,” Turgeon said. “It’s been that type of year for us.”
Trevor Cooney was fouled and made one of two free throws with 4 seconds to go before an off-balance shot by Maryland’s Seth Allen bounded off the back of the rim as the buzzer sounded.
Allen finished with 22 points, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Terps (15-13, 7-8 Atlantic Coast Conference) from falling to 0-6 against Top 25 teams this season.
“Something has to happen, and that’s something me and coach Turgeon are going to talk about,” said Dez Wells, who scored 15 points. “I’m just going to put it on my shoulders to figure out what we need to do and what needs to happen from us to take that jump.”
Tyler Ennis scored 20 points and Fair had 17 for Syracuse (26-2, 13-2). Like many of the previous ones during Syracuse’s first season in the ACC, this was not easy.
“How many we played in the league now? We’ve had one that wasn’t close,” coach Jim Boeheim said. “This was the game we were most ahead of in all except two. This has been how we’ve played since the league started. We were actually ahead, which we probably weren’t used to.”
After opening the season with 25 straight wins, Syracuse dropped successive games to Boston College and Duke to lose its stature as the nation’s top-ranked team. Saturday’s game at Duke was decided by a pivotal call in the final seconds that caused Boeheim to storm the court, receive two technical fouls and an automatic ejection.
In this one, Boeheim was relatively calm on the sideline as the Orange forced 18 turnovers and limited Maryland to 35 percent shooting.
The coach took exception to Turgeon’s claim that Faust was fouled on his drive to the hoop.
“They shot 27 free throws. If anybody’s going to complain about the officiating, I’m going to complain,” Boeheim said. “If they didn’t turn it over 18 times, they wouldn’t have to worry about that.”
It was the first sellout of the season at Maryland, which does not have traditional rivals Duke or North Carolina on the home schedule during its final season in the ACC.
“I think late we got stops,” Allen said, “and you know the crowd got us into it, it kept us going.”
The crowd of 17,950 lost much of its enthusiasm during a stretch in which the Terrapins went scoreless for nearly 5 minutes in the second half while Syracuse upped its lead to double figures.
Ennis, a 6-foot-2 freshman, made a 3-pointer and two baskets in an 8-2 spree that put Syracuse up 42-30. After the Terps closed to 44-37, Michael Gbinije popped a 3, Faust botched a dunk on the other end and Ennis hit a jumper for a 49-37 lead.
It barely held up.
“I’d like to thank our crowd,” Turgeon said. “They stuck with it. I thought they were tremendous down the stretch and gave us a chance to win the game because the energy in the building was great.”
Syracuse shot 50 percent and Ennis drilled a 3-pointer just before the buzzer for a 32-24 halftime advantage.
After a steal by Wells set up a dunk by Charles Mitchell to put Maryland ahead 5-3, the Orange got four points apiece from Fair and Grant in a 15-3 run that made it 18-8.
At that point, Syracuse was 8 for 12 from the field and the Terrapins were 3 for 13.
A 3-pointer by Allen capped a 9-2 spurt that got Maryland to 20-17 before the Orange rattled off three straight baskets. The Terrapins were still in it, though, despite missing 12 of 17 shots and committing nine turnovers.
With 4:55 left, Fair picked up his third foul and hit the bench for the remainder of the half after scoring 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)