COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Maryland's quest for a significant, attention-getting victory will have to wait for another day.
The Terrapins put up a heck of a battle against fifth-ranked North Carolina on Saturday, but their bid for an upset ended in an 83-74 defeat.
Terrell Stoglin scored 20 points for Maryland, which held a nine-point lead early in the second half before fading under a barrage of jumpers and second-chance shots by the Tar Heels (20-3, 7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference).
The Terrapins (13-9, 3-5) have played surprisingly well in their first season under coach Mark Turgeon. Unfortunately, the result on Saturday was depressingly familiar.
"We took on the challenge and made some great plays down the stretch, but we came up short again from getting that signature win, especially at home," said senior guard Sean Mosley, who scored 11 and now has 999 for his career.
Maryland was undone in part by North Carolina's prowess on the offensive boards. Too often in the second half, the Tar Heels missed, got the rebound, missed, got the rebound and scored.
"It's really simple. I've never had more trouble getting a team to be more physical on the box-outs," Turgeon said. "If we just could have gotten a couple more rebounds in there, it might have been a different outcome."
North Carolina finished with a 46-39 rebounding advantage and snared 19 on its own end.
"They got talent, they've got size and they're athletic," Mosley said. "We tried to limit them to one shot. They had a lot of offensive rebounds, which may have cost us the game tonight."
Tyler Zeller scored 22, Harrison Barnes added 18 and John Henson had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Tar Heels. North Carolina's previous biggest comeback this season in a victory was by eight points, at Virginia Tech.
"It's big for us. I think it showed character," said UNC guard Kendall Marshall, who set a Comcast Center record by matching a career high with 16 assists. "We were able to regroup and find a way to get it done."
The Terrapins never led over the final nine minutes, but they kept North Carolina within striking distance until the final 62 seconds.
Barnes, who sprained his left ankle Tuesday against Wake Forest, hurt it again Saturday, coach Roy Williams said.
"I didn't tell him, but I said to myself if I saw him limping around again on the defensive end, I was going to take him out," Williams said. "Maybe he picked up on my vibe because he stopped limping."
Henson scored 12 points over the final 10:12. His basket on a goaltending call against Alex Len with 2:04 left put the Tar Heels up 74-69, and a jumper by Barnes made it 76-70 with 1:02 remaining.
Stoglin missed 13 of 21 shots and was 1 for 9 from beyond the arc.
"It's real frustrating, but we're a young team and have to learn from it," said Stoglin, a sophomore.
It marked the first time Turgeon faced Williams, his former mentor at Kansas. Turgeon nearly guided his team to a sensational upset. Instead, he had to settle for an encouraging showing because the Terrapins made only one field goal over the final three minutes.
"I thought their best players stepped up when the game was on the line, and they made all the plays," Turgeon said. "(But) we're going to be good, soon."
Maryland opened the second half with an 8-2 run — four points apiece by Mosley and Stoglin — to take a 48-39 lead. That meant North Carolina would have to mount its biggest rally of the season to win, topping the comeback from an eight-point deficit at Virginia Tech.
The Tar Heels wasted no time getting to it. A layup by Zeller and a 3-pointer by Marshall sparked an 11-2 run that tied it at 50 with 12:40 left. Minutes later, however, Zeller picked up his fourth foul and had to hit the bench.
"When Zeller was out, I thought we could make a run," Turgeon said.
It didn't harm North Carolina. The Terrapins led 57-52 before Barnes sandwiched a 15-foot jumper and a 3-pointer around a dunk by Henson to put the Tar Heels in front.
Zeller scored 14 points in the first half, but Maryland committed only four turnovers in taking a 40-37 lead — only the fourth time this season the Tar Heels trailed at halftime.
"The first half, I thought (the Terrapins) were much more aggressive than we were," Williams said. "We looked tentative around the basket."
North Carolina got only two first-half points from its bench — a basket by James Michael McAdoo.
The Tar Heels temporarily blunted the enthusiasm of the crowd by moving ahead 15-9 before Nick Faust scored five points in an 8-0 run that put the Terrapins in front. Barnes ended the surge with an alley-oop dunk, then drilled a 3-pointer to put the Tar Heels up 20-19.
Maryland led 29-24 before Zeller made a layup, McAdoo hit a jumper and Henson sank a free throw to knot the score.