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Maryland gets a win in home-opener

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Maryland gets a win in home-opener

The Maryland Terrapins received an unexpected gift in their attempt to get beyond the post-Kentucky hangover they almost certainly felt after their nationally televised heartbreaker on Friday night. That gift came in the form of the Morehead State Eagles and had nothing to do with any inabilities or incompetence.

In fact, it was quite the opposite.

From the very first possession of the game, the Eagles double teamed, rebounded, and hustled their tails off against a young Maryland team playing its first home game of the season. Their efforts simply would not allow Maryland to mail in this game and coast to an easy victory.

That Maryland won this game handily, 67-45, doesn’t really speak to just how hard the Terps had to work for the win. They endured another terrible shooting first half (9-24) by using impressive depth and stifling defense in route to a 35-19 halftime lead. They were bolstered by a 16-22 performance from the free throw line and in that first half and a terrific all-around performance by sophomore center Alex Len who had 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and generally made life miserable around the Morehead basket.

In the end, the crowd of 8,724 left energized by the performance they had just witnessed by a Maryland team that had 10 players enjoy double figure minutes. While Nick Faust and Len led the scoring with 12 and 11 points respectively, fans were also able to get a quality sample of a handful of newcomers.

Sophomore Dez Wells was impressive in his home debut and shot 50 percent from the field and was in the middle of several scrums where he inevitably came up with possession of the ball. He finished the game with 8 points, 3 assists and 2 rebounds and also finished the game’s signature play when he caught a lob pass in transition in the first half right around the top of the white square and threw down a dunk that had the rim rattling for a good thirty seconds.

Freshmen Jake Layman and Charles Mitchell did what they are supposed to do. Layman hit spot up jumpers and Mitchell grabbed every rebound within the area code. Layman ended up with 7 points and appears to be a credible threat to take pressure off of Len down the road. Mitchell ended up with a team leading 9 rebounds and continues to impress with his both his hands and his motor.

But the biggest impression of the night probably belonged to freshman Shaquille Clear. He will always be compared to his classmate Mitchell and he has struggled in his first two outings as a Terp. In this game, however, he stepped up in a big way. He scored 8 points that included a sterling 5-6 performance from the free throw line. He also grabbed 5 rebounds and had 3 blocks. Except they weren’t just blocks.

Evidently the big fella never heard of the legend of Bill Russell and how he used to block shots to himself to start fast breaks. Instead, Cleare appears to be interested in seeing exactly which section of the Comcast Center he might be able to send the ball to. Each one of his shots actually landed in the lap of various fans in attendance. And each one was greeted with the same sort of “did you just see that?” look from the students sitting close to the floor.

Next up for the Terps are the Blackbirds from Long Island University. The first game of the season resulted in a three point loss to this same Morehead State team. They are a regular NCAA tournament team and love to play at pace. That, in and of itself, will offer Maryland another challenge.

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With two championships in two days, Maryland's lacrosse teams join unique club

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With two championships in two days, Maryland's lacrosse teams join unique club

Any NCAA Championship deserves an explosive celebration because of the guaranteed adversity faced and collective team effort to go all the way. The Maryland men's lacrosse team — in addition to its challenging 16-3 season — has been fighting four decades' worth of adversity on its way to its first title since the 1975 season.

But when the Terrapins took down Ohio State — which handed Maryland one of its losses in overtime this season — on Monday, 9-6, for the championship, they gave the school, the athletic department and its fan base an extra boost of Terps pride after the women's team claimed its third title in four seasons Sunday. It's also just the third time in NCAA lacrosse history — or since the women began playing in 1982 — a school's men's and women's teams returned to the same campus as champions in the same season. 

Last season, both North Carolina teams won their respective championships, and before that, there was only Princeton in 1994. 

Topping Boston College on Sunday to cap a perfect, undefeated season, the women's program reaffirmed its power, earning its 13th championship — the most of any school and six more than second-place Northwestern — while the men opened what could be a new era of Terrapin dominance. 

It's a special lacrosse weekend for Maryland, and its fans should cherish the rarity of their men's and women's teams rising to the top of the NCAA. UConn's basketball teams have done it a couple times, and it happens in sports like swimming relatively often. But in lacrosse, both teams being the best in the nation is truly exceptional, and it deserves to be celebrated as much as the individual championships themselves.

MORE NCAA ON CSN: Who should be taken first in the NBA draft?

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Maryland lacrosse vanquishes championship demons with defining victory over Ohio State

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Maryland lacrosse vanquishes championship demons with defining victory over Ohio State

For the fifth time in seven seasons, the Maryland Terrapins had plans on Memorial Day.

But they didn't just have plans, they had dreams, too.

Dreams of tossing their helmets, sticks and gloves into the air as they celebrate the NCAA Men's Lacrosse National Championship.

But in 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2016, Memorial Day ended with no dreams, just nightmares.

RELATED: TERPS MEN'S, WOMEN'S LACROSSE PULLS OFF 2017 TITLE SWEEP

Despite nine appearances in the National Championship Game since 1975, the Terrapins had zero titles to show for.

It had become a trend. An ugly, embarrassing trend for the largest university in the largest hotspot of American lacrosse.

But on Monday afternoon at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., the Terrapins vanquished 42 years of championship nightmares, defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes 9-6 for the program's first national championship since that 1975 victory.

The two Big Ten teams had met twice prior to Monday's championship game, with both teams earning an 11-10 victory.

But junior goalie Dan Morris, who had just 17 saves and 21 goals against in the two previous meetings against the Buckeyes, put on a dazzling performance, recording 11 saves, including two huge stops in the final five minutes to turn the Terps' title dreams into a reality.

The Terps' final drive to the title came in the fourth quarter. It began with Matt Rambo, the program's all-time leading scorer, senior caption and heavy favorite to capture the 2017 Tewaaraton Award. 

With just over 10 minutes remaining and the Terps up 7-3, the burly Pennsylvania native drove to the goal from behind the cage and hurled an unbalanced, fade-away shot past Buckeyes goalie Tom Carey. It wasn't just the Tewaaraton Trophy moment from Rambo, but it was also Maryland's championship moment. It was an image that will likely be plastered on the walls inside the new Cole Field House.

But as is the case in lacrosse, the fastest game on two feet, the Buckeyes responded just 12 seconds later. It was their first goal of the second half and it gave Ohio State new life. The Terps would not be able to finally get over the national championship hump without having to fight through nerves, butterflies, and a five-goal lead that quickly became just a three-goal lead with plenty of time remaining. Following the Jake Withers goal to make it 8-4, Tre LeClaire beat Morris to cut the Maryland lead to 8-5 with 5:01 remaining.

Three minutes later, Johnny Pearson beat Morris to make it 8-6.

The Buckeyes had gone nearly 20 minutes without a goal but fired off three in eight minutes to serve as the last true obstacle for the Terrapins. 

However, Tim Rotanz, who finished with a game-high three goals, buried an empty-net goal with 59 seconds to pass the final test. As the seconds ticked off the clock, the Maryland bench began jumping up and down. Alumni, near and far, exhaled and began to celebrate.

Even John Tillman, the Terps stoic head coach who entered Monday with an 0-4 record in national championship games since joining Maryland in 2010, took a deep breath and could be seen cracking a smile, if only a slight one.

The Terps had plans for Monday, and for the first time since 1975, they followed through.