Quick Links

Wells' career night pushes Maryland past Mason

dezwellsmason.png

Wells' career night pushes Maryland past Mason

For the Maryland Terrapins to be the team they want to ultimately be this season, eventually they would have to win a game like they won this afternoon against the George Mason University Patriots.

 After Maryland had earned a 34-30 halftime lead, the Patriots came flying out of the visitor’s locker room at Verizon Center. They scored the first seven points before the Terps regained their composure and responded with a 9-2 run of their own to take the lead back at 43-39 with 14:43 to play in the game.

 As it turned out that was the biggest lead Maryland would have until center Alex Len made a soft hook in the lane with just over six minutes remaining to give them a 55-49 lead. Eventually the final margin of 69-62 felt very deceptive.

Back to the original premise….what makes this win mean something are two things. First off, George Mason is a good team from a program that is accustomed to achieving and winning. They entered this event with nothing to lose and expecting to win. If you’re Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon, that is a dangerous combination in an opponent.

Second, this was the first time this season that the Terps had fallen behind in the second half and came back to win and they had to do it by grinding out possessions on both ends of the floor. Had they shot a little better from the free throw line (23-39 for the game) they may very well have taken some of the drama out of this contest but this Maryland team does not appear to be wired that way.

In their five wins coming into the BB&T today, the Terps had five different leading scorers in those wins. Sophomore wing Dez Wells appeared to have a breakout performance in the Maryland win at Northwestern earlier in the week and he picked up where he left off this afternoon. He nailed his first four shots of the game and eventually shot 7-10 with 15 points heading into the break.

 The only problem is that he was also guilty of four turnovers at critical times that helped to allow the Patriots a chance to claw their way back into the game.

 For the game he finished with a career high 25 points but his contributions appeared to be even greater than that, if that is possible.

After George Mason had taken that 37-34 lead early in the second half, the Patriots took a long rebound off of a Maryland miss and headed up court in transition. As point guard, Byron Allen pitched the ball up the sideline on the break, Wells intercepted the ball just as he was falling out of bounds and, somehow, fired the ball to teammate Pe’Shon Howard at halfcourt. Howard took two dribbles and lofted an alley-oop pass to fellow guard Nick Faust for a thunderous, “highlights at 11” slam that not only woke the Maryland fans up but also completely re-invigorated the team at a critical juncture. From that point on his teammates seemed as completely engaged as Wells was.

On the stat sheet it probably went down as one steal. In reality it was much, much greater.

While Len has probably been the most consistent player on the team from game one through the game this afternoon, it is becoming increasingly evident that it is Wells’ team at this point. Watch him provide direction to his teammates- often time with volume- in practice or in a huddle and it’s pretty clear to see.

Faust had a quietly solid game with 14 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists and seems to be thriving in his role as Robin to Wells’ Batman.

The Terps continue to hammer opponents on the backboards. George Mason rebounded as well as any team Maryland has faced all season but still ended up getting hammered 49-34. That advantage was one reason why Maryland shot so many free throws and why they were able to overcome the 19 turnovers they committed.

The way their schedule breaks, this Maryland team should cruise into ACC play with a fairly gaudy 12-1 record when they open up with Virginia Tech in the first week of the year. As they navigate these next couple of weeks they would be well served to remember the lessons from a hard-earned win today.

Quick Links

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

usatsi_10079702.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

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?

Quick Links

Maryland lacrosse vanquishes championship demons with defining victory over Ohio State

maryland-lacrosse-title.jpg
USA Today Sports

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.