Riding a monumental two-game losing streak, the Maryland Terrapins men’s basketball team couldn’t afford a third consecutive ACC loss on Wednesday evening. Despite a slow start, the Terps rode a balanced scoring effort to a 74-66 victory over Notre Dame.
It wasn’t a pretty win by any stretch, thanks to a sloppy first half against the Fighting Irish. In the opening half, Notre Dame guard/forward Pat Connaughton burned Maryland to the tune of 15 points during that stretch. However, Maryland’s defense did learn to defend Connaughton as he only scored four points in the second half.
Maryland began the second half on an 8-0 scoring run, which was highlighted by two tough layups courtesy of forward Charles Mitchell. It helped that the Fighting Irish didn’t score until the 6:46 mark and turned it over on multiple occasions. Even though he played limited minutes due to foul trouble, Mitchell still turned in a solid performance with 10 points and seven rebounds.
With 11:52 left, guard Seth Allen nailed a deep three-pointer off a nice bounce pass from guard Nick Faust to give Maryland their first lead at 39-36. On the next Terrapin possession, Faust lobbed a beautiful pass to guard/forward Jake Layman, who converted for the basket. It capped off a 16-2 run to begin the second stanza and it was arguably the most impressive the Maryland offense has looked in quite some time.
Allen, who started his first game of the season on Wednesday, finished with a decent line of 14 points (5-of-13 from the field), five rebounds, and four assists. He also connected on three out of seven attempts from beyond the arc.
During the final 10 minutes, Maryland was in the bonus and took advantage of the fact that they could go inside and draw fouls. Guards Dez Wells and Faust took every opportunity to make their way to the basket and absorb contact from Notre Dame defenders.
At the 5:59 mark, Allen connected on another triple to push the lead to 55-45 and the Terps looked to be in business. A few moments later, big man Shaquille Cleare drilled a picture-perfect fadeaway jumper in the paint and was fouled (he made the free throw).
Despite a double-digit lead, Notre Dame did make a late push. Irish guard Austin Burgett hit a pair of shots from beyond the arc in the final three minutes, which did cut the lead to 69-64. However with 1:17 left, Faust connected on a corner three to give Maryland a 72-64 lead and allowed the Terps to cruise to victory with free throws.
The Terps are back on the court on Monday when they travel to N.C. State to battle the Wolfpack for the final time as ACC members.