Nov 12, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins guard Dez Wells (32) passes against the Morehead State Eagles at the Comcast Center. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
If I were to tell you that the Maryland Terrapins would turn the ball over 19 times, score eight bench points, and take 22 fewer shots than the next team, you’d probably tell me that that’s a game they would have lost. And in doing so, you’d be wrong, because that’s exactly what happened when the Maryland Terrapins took on the George Mason Patriots at the Verizon Center Sunday afternoon. Despite playing absolutely lackluster in a few key areas, the Terrapins did just enough right to coax out a victory in a game that should have never been so close.
Part of the reason they won, or rather, the main reason they didn’t get blown out can be credited to the ignition of the heat seeking missile that is Dezmine Wells. Wells, coming off a career high 23 points against Northwestern, followed that up by setting another career high in points at 25 against George Mason (on 11-of-17 shooting). Nearly everything that George Mason attempted to throw at Wells failed, as he hit from beyond the arc, converted and-one’s, scored from mid-range, and drove to the basket at will. When I say at will, I mean it was as if Mason decided to wear sneakers created entirely of mud, as Wells went end-to-end on numerous occasions without seeing a single opponent contest him.
Without Wells, the game is an absolute blowout for the Terrapins, because he took over and put the team on his back when Maryland needed it most. This is how the Terrapins started the second half: missed three pointer, foul, turnover, missed jumper, missed jumper, three missed free throws, missed jumper– all in succession. Then, Mark Turgeon grilled the Terps during a timeout/typed in the key codes to activate Wells, as he came out of the huddle and promptly stole the ball, which led to a beautiful Nick Faust dunk in transition.
After that, Dez Wells just destroyed George Mason’s villages. After a TV timeout, Wells converted a layup, grabbed a defensive rebound and rushed it end-to-end and to eventually convert an and-one, and put the Terrapins up 43-39 as he single-handedly stopped the George Mason run. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough because the Terrapins went scoreless for the next three minutes, which allowed the Patriots to even the game up yet again.
Fortunately for Maryland, the Dez Wells missile wasn’t done yet. Wells took over after yet another TV timeout, scoring in transition off a Padgett steal. The next Maryland bucket? Well, yeah, of course it was Dez Wells who went hard to the rack and put in a tough layup off the glass that gives the Terrapins a 47-45 lead, and from that point on the Terrapins never trailed again.
Wells heroics aside, the Terrapins managed to get this victory by way of sheer grit. They outrebounded the Patriots 45-32, and it’s a good thing because the 19 turnovers they committed would have ultimately bit them in the butt. Wells led the team with five of them, but that’s not to say it was completely his fault, as a few were given to him off errant passes by Mr. Pe’Shon Howard. The sloppy play is something that the Terrapins have become notorious for, and everyone on the team committed at least one except for Shaquille Cleare, and that was only because he played seven minutes of bad basketball (no stats except for three fouls).
The game could have been further out of reach had the Terrapins managed to hit their free throws, but even that they couldn’t do well. Maryland only hit 23-of-39 free throws (59% of them), and had they actually connected the game could have easily stretched to double-digits as the Terrapins were in the bonus less than five minutes into the second half. That alone should have given that a significant advantage…but it didn’t.
Nick Faust and Alex Len were following wells in the scoring department with 14 and 12 points, respectively. After that, no one scored in double-figures for the Terrapins. Padgett probably should have, but his ability to make only 4-of-10 free throws definitely hurt him. The bench for the Terrapins was terrible save for Charles Mitchell, who ended the game with 4 points and 6 rebounds to go along with a block.
Sure, the Terrapins played very solid defense in holding George Mason to only 31% shooting from the floor, but they could have been so much better, which is what is so disappointing about this victory. It isn’t about what they did, it’s about what they didn’t do. Luckily, the Terrapins were significantly more talented than George Mason, which was just enough to squeak out a win.
Hopefully they’re getting all these bad games out of the way now, because this sort of thing won’t fly during ACC play at all. If the Terrapins want to consider themselves a top 25 team in the nation, they have to deliver more crushing victories than this. A top 25 team doesn’t often play as poorly as the Terrapins did yesterday. They do, however, win games, and that is one thing Maryland got right.
Next up on the calendar? The Terrapins take on their sister school Wednesday, University of Maryland-Eastern Shore. The Hawks have yet to win a game this season, so there’s a chance this one could be a pushover. Then again, Maryland likes to make life hard on themselves.