The cold spell may not be over weather wise for the DC area, but the Maryland Terrapins just got rid of theirs. Playing in front of a shade over 12,000 bundled up fans, the Terps won in a nail biter of a game from start to finish, 74-71 over the Miami Hurricanes (now 10-10) thanks to a Dez Wells three pointer with five seconds remaining.
Wells, who had zero points in the first half due to foul trouble, carried the Terps in the second half to victory with a perfect game: 21 points on 7-for-7 shooting and 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Without that, Maryland’s near choke job to finish the game would have been hard to swallow.
Up 71-61 with 1:34 remaining, the calamity began. Nick Faust fouled Rion Brown at the three point line (Brown drained all three. Then, Seth Allen missed his first free throw on an intentional foul. Miami then hit a layup, another three pointer, and Maryland missed their other free throw.
Fortunately, Dez Wells is super clutch. With seconds left, Turgeon drew up an iso for Dez Wells, who then drained a three pointer from near-center court to put Maryland up 74-71 for good. LeComte missed a free throw on a foul by Seth Allen with two seconds left, and the Terps put the game away for good.
The Terps got yet another strong effort from Jake Layman, who was coming off an 18-point performance against Pitt last game. Layman had eight points in the first half thanks to a pair of three pointers, and did everything he could to bust Miami’s zone early to open things up. Layman finished the game with 15 points, three rebounds, and two assists.
But it wasn’t just Layman who was doing his best to bust the zone, because Evan Smotrycz put together his most complete performance in awhile as well. Smotrycz hit three of his four three point attempts to finish the game up with 15 points. He also contributed a team high four assists. Smotrycz’ versatility gave the Hurricanes problems all night.
The Terps were able to get out in transition off turnovers and create over and over against Miami. They had 24 points off turnovers and continually capitalized on Miami miscues throughout the game. Dez Wells, in particular, feasted on that in the second half after not playing most of the first due to foul trouble.
For most of this game, though, the winner was completely uncertain. At halftime, Miami would have had the lead were it not for a last second Seth Allen shot to put them up 30-29. The Hurricanes kept things close all game long, hitting just enough shots to keep themselves in it. Manu LeComte was all over place for Miami, scoring 19 points and hitting three triples that helped Miami throughout the second half when the Terps threatened to pull away. His late free throw miss cost Miami a potential lead though.
Rion Brown, the team’s leading scorer, also had 25 points and four rebounds after that tear to end the game. Donnavan Kirk, the team’s second leading scorer, came just shy of a double-double with 9 points and 9 rebounds. Kirk denied Maryland the paint on multiple occasions, but there was nothing to be done about the fast break.
For the Terps, this one was huge, but not necessarily for their tournament hopes. Stopping a skid at home, and winning at home for that matter, feels good. The fans who braved the cold were rewarded with a win, and Maryland was able to create some distance between the bottom rung of the ACC and themselves. The Terps want to make it abundantly clear that they aren’t in that Boston College, Virginia Tech, Miami conglomerate.
While that ain’t much, it is something.