Syracuse, N.Y. — Maryland basketball guard Kevin Huerter picked out his family and friends among the 20,852 fans inside the Carrier Dome during Monday’s 72-70 loss to Syracuse.
The support reminded him of his playing days at Shenendehowa Central High School in Clifton Park, New York, and helped him overcome two turnovers in the first two minutes to post a season-high 23 points.
Huerter hit seven 3-pointers against a Syracuse program that showed interest in him in high school but didn’t make an offer around the time NCAA sanctions reduced its available scholarships.
“It crushes you, because we knew he was a great player, great shooter,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “The perfect wing-type player for us. And, you know, we just couldn’t go after him at the time.”
Huerter lost the ball from the post on Maryland’s first possession. He committed another turnover about a minute later, appearing on pace for another shaky performance after seven giveaways this past weekend against St. Bonaventure and New Mexico.
But once his first shot — a 3-pointer from the left corner — went in, he said he felt more confident. He made three treys in the first half and finished 7-for-9 from long range.
That didn’t surprise guard Darryl Morsell, who tried to feed Huerter’s hot hand throughout the contest. Morsell knew Huerter had family and friends in the crowd, so he predicted a standout performance from the 6-foot-7 sophomore.
Morsell’s confidence grew when he saw Huerter connect on three of his first four deep tries, understanding his teammate’s capabilities.
“Once he gets it going,” Morsell said, “I don’t know if there are too many people out there that can shoot better than him.”
Turgeon wanted Huerter to get a shot with about 30 seconds to go, but he didn’t get the chance. After the Terps initially missed an opportunity for a quick two-pointer, guard Anthony Cowan drove the lane, slipped and lost possession. On the next trip down the floor, Morsell supplied Maryland’s 18th turnover of the game.
But with Maryland trailing by four with under 10 seconds to go, Huerter raced down the floor and jacked up a three from the right wing. As it had for much of the night, his effort swished through the net to put last-second pressure on the Orange.
Syracuse held on, however, to deliver Maryland’s second loss in four days.
“You feel like you wasted a great effort on [Huerter’s] part,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “Take away all those turnovers and second chance points, things that we can clean up, you know, we can become a good team. But until we do that, we’ve got some work to do.”
Even after Huerter experienced what it’s like to play in the Carrier Dome — about 150 miles from where he went to high school — he didn’t lament Syracuse not offering him a scholarship. He said he would have likely played for Maryland regardless, an outcome the Terps cherished Monday night.
“He was pretty keyed up tonight, obviously,” Turgeon said. “He wanted to play well and he did.”