Terps prove to be worthy adversary for Kentucky

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Terps prove to be worthy adversary for Kentucky

When the game story is written about the Maryland Terrapins heart-stopping 72-69 loss to the Kentucky Wildcats tonight virtually every story will concentrate on Maryland’s woeful 33% field goal percentage and their inabilities to make shots from range.

Ultimately, though, many of the most directional plays in this game were plays that won’t be seen on SportsCenter and will never be quantified on a box sheet and we’ll get to a few of those momentarily

It was a valiant effort, to be sure, and there is no shame in a close loss to the defending national champs in a nationally televised affair. Yet, as the Terps exited Barclay’s Center after the game, each one had their head down as if they each understood that they had just let a golden opportunity slip through their fingertips.

Kentucky had seized a commanding 49-36 lead at the break on the strength of terrific shooting and a Maryland offense that shot a host of bad shots. The Terps were a horrid 13-44 in the first half and that included 0-11 from the three point line. Conversely Kentucky shot 18-31 and a solid 5-7 from three-point land.

A different Terp team emerged from the locker room at the start of the second half and they went on a 23-8 run over the first 11 minutes of the first half to seize a short-lived lead. At that point it became a possession game and sometimes the trick in games like that is to simply make sure you have more possessions down the stretch.

So, back to those subtle, directional plays…with the Terps up two after their run, forward James Padgett missed a contested layup that would have taken the lead to four points and committed a foul on the rebound. Instead of the Terps having their largest lead of the game, Kentucky’s Kyle Wiltjer (19 points and 6 rebounds in a terrific performance) canned two free throws and the game is tied.

The game went back and forth for the next four minutes to the under four minute media timeout. After Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel missed two free throws, Maryland point guard Pe’Shon Howard rebounded the second miss and turned to go up-court with his team down just 65-63. As he turned, Kentucky reserve guard Jarrod Palson was able to jar the ball out of his hands and throw in an acrobatic left handed reverse layup to put the Wildcat lead at four.

That was the first of three consecutive loose balls that were all collected by the Wildcats in the next sixty seconds and allow them to keep the Terps at bay. Eventually those loose balls led to a 68-63 lead before Maryland would cut into the lead at 1:59 on a tip-in by freshman Charles Mitchell. Those two minutes of empty possessions would prove to be killers for the Terps. They would close to 70-69 inside the ten second mark but two Palson free throws and a poorly executed offensive set by the Terps on the last play of the game resulted in a disappointing loss.

Great news actually came out of this game, regardless of the loss. If, in fact, Kentucky is the third best team in the land then the Terps could well be right behind them. Yes, they are that good and that talented.

Sophomore center Alex Len was the absolute best player on the court by a mile. He fashioned a dominating 23 point, 12 rebound, 4 block performance against a host of talented Kentucky bigs.

Freshmen Jake Layman, Seth Allen and Charles Mitchell all had good minutes – especially in the second half- and proved that they can be counted on against any level of competition. Allen made two three pointers in the game and combined with Howard to total 10 assists against just 2 turnovers in that critical point guard position.

After the game, the brutally honest Turgeon mulled over the game and the last possession that went awry. “Obviously I never designed a play for our point guard to try and get a shot over a 7-footer but I’m learning this team and there are some things that happen in these early games that you just cannot prepare for,” he said. But after his public flogging he was far more philosophical about his team and what they had just learned.

“We came a long way tonight and we’ll get better as a result. I just really wish we were able to learn these kinds of lessons after a win…”

After watching the Terps tonight one cannot escape the feeling that there are plenty of those coming Turgeon’s way.

Terps once again suffer championship heartbreak thanks to OT loss

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Terps once again suffer championship heartbreak thanks to OT loss

The Maryland men's lacrosse program seemed destined to finally get the championship monkey off its back. But for the fourth time since 2011, the Terps fell just short in the National Championship, losing to North Carolina 14-13 in overtime.

Maryland began the overtime with possession thanks to an unsportsmanlike penalty by UNC at the end of regulation. But after Tar Heels goalie Brian Balkam denied Connor Kelly from outside, North Caorlina got possession and a chance to win.

Chris Cloutier, who set the all-time goals record for a single tournament with 19, had a great look on the crease but Maryland senior goalie Kyle Bernlohr made an incredible save.

But following the play, a late hit by Maryland's Mike McCarney resulted in a man-advantage and possession.

On the ensuing possession Cloutier once again found the ball in his stick on the crease and finished the game, and once again dashed the Terps' title hopes.

Maryland held leads of 9-7 and 13-11, but could not pull away from the Tar Heels. Cloutier scored three straight goals to but Carolina up 10-9, and after Matt Rambo led the Terps back in front, Steve Pontrello and Luke Goldstock closed the gap.

Cloutier finished with five goals and was named championship game MVP. Goldstock finished with four goals while Pontrello and Brian Cannon scored twice as well for the Tar Heels. Midfielder Connor Kelly led the Terps in scoring with four goals on eight shots. Philadelphia-native Matt Rambo finished with three goals and three assists in the loss. Colin heacock finished with two goals and two assists, while Dylan Maltz the third member of the Terrapins' attack trio, finished with two goals and one assist. 

Bernlohr finished with nine saves, while Balkam finished with 13. The victory gives the Tar Heels' its fifth in program history and first since 1991. With the Tar Heels defeating the Terrapins in the women's championship game on Saturday, North Carolina becomes the first university since Princeton in 1994 to win both the men's and women's championships in the same year. 

WATCH: Terps earn another shot at NCAA title thanks to thrilling OT victory

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WATCH: Terps earn another shot at NCAA title thanks to thrilling OT victory

The Maryland men's lacrosse program will get yet another crack at claiming its first National Championship since 1975 thanks to a thrilling 15-14 overtime victory over Brown on Saturday afternoon in the semifinals of the 2016 NCAA Tournament.

The No. 1 overall-seed Terrapins (17-2) allowed the Bears (16-3) to force overtime thanks to a four-goal comeback in the final six minutes of regulation, with the game-tying goal coming with just over one minute remaining.

Maryland lost the opening faceoff in overtime, but got possession following a loose ball.  After settling in to their offensive formation, a defensive breakdown by Brown allowed junior Matt Rambo to find fellow junior Colin Heacock wide-open in front of the goal.

Heacock pump-faked, then buried the game-winning goal past first-team All-American goalie Jack Kelly to end the game.

The afternoon semifinal was destined for an epic finish.

The two teams put on a show for four quarters, with both squads feeling the wild ebbs and flows of a major college lacrosse game. 

Maryland jumped out to an early 2-0 lead thanks to two goals in the game's opening minutes. Before too long Maryland held a 4-1 lead.

But that's when Tewaarton Award finalist Dylan Molloy, who was questionable heading into the game due to a foot injury sustained in an opening round victory over Johns Hopkins, led the Bears back. Molloy scored on a nifty inside roll dodge to beat senior goalie Kyle Bernlohr, and Bailey Tillis provided perhaps the goal of the tournament, beating Bernlohr with a reverse underhand shot while dodging on a defending from just and the goal line. 

Brown rallied off four straight goals to take a 5-4 lead, but Maryland Midfielder Connor Kelly responded with a goal from the outside thanks to textbook placement to even the score at 5-5 heading into the second quarter.

The two teams traded the lead in the second, with Maryland defender Matt Dunn evening the score once again thanks to a goal from nearly 60-feet away.

In the third quarter, the Terps took a stranglehold on the game, scoring four straight goals to take a 12-8 lead. Brown was able to finally break the second-half seal thanks to a broken-play goal from Tillis with 23 seconds left.

Maryland started the fourth quarter just like the third, scoring three consecutive goals and jumped ahead 14-10 with nine minutes remaining and the game looked to be over. But such is the nature of lacrosse. Like in basketball, where a double-digit lead can be earsed in mere moments, so too can a four-goal lead.

But things were starting to look bleak for the Ivy League champions.

Despite Kelly coming up large in goal for Brown with 11 second-half saves, the Bears were done in by countless turnovers. Brown had an astonishing 24 turnovers on Saturday, and despite coughing up the ball four times over the last nine minutes, their offensive firepower, and dominance at the faceoff (they won 20 of 32 faceoffs) allowed them to rally from behind scoring the final four goals of regulation.

Kelly finished with 14 saves for Brown, while Bernlohr finished with 11 in the victory. Heacock and fellow attackman Dylan Maltz both netted three goals for the Terps, with Heacock adding an assist as well. Rambo, the team's unabashed leader, had just one goal, but tallied five assists, including the game-winner.

Molloy, who will have foot surgery on Tuesday, finished with with two very gutsy goals. Tillis had by far his best game of the season, finishing with a game-high four goals, and one assist as well. Henry Blynn and Brandon Caputo each scored twice for the Bears.

Maryland advances to the 2016 NCAA Championship Game on Monday afternoon and will face North Carolina (11-6), which defeated Loyola (MD) 18-13 thanks to Chris Cloutier's Final Four record nine goals. The Terps defeated the Tar Heels 11-8 when the two teams met in non-conference play back on March 28.

But the stakes are much different now. Maryland, winners of 16 straight, are looking for their first NCAA title since 1975 despite this being their fourth championship game appearance since 2011. North Carolina last won an NCAA lacrosse championship in 1994 and is looking to become the first unseeded team to win a national championship.

The final game of the 2016 lacrosse season takes place Monday at 1 p.m. ET at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Penn.

Maryland lacrosse Final Four preview

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Maryland lacrosse Final Four preview

The Maryland men's lacrosse program is once again spending Memorial Day Weekend attempting to get the monkey off its back.

The trip to Lincoln Finanical Field in Philadelphia, Penn., will mark the Terps' fifth Final Four appearance since 2011, but each of the previous trips have yielded zero national championships. 

In fact, the Terps (16-2, 5-0 Big Ten) have advanced to three national championship games since 2011,  but are still looking for the program's first title since 1975.

The Terps entered the 2016 NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed for the first time since 1987 and find themselves once again a part of championship weekend thanks to victories over Quinnipiac (13-6) and No. 8 seed Syracuse (13-7).

But in order to reach another national championship game, the Terps will have to get past No. 5 seed Brown, the champions of the Ivy League and  top-ranked team in the country according to the Laxpower.comindex. 

Brown (16-2, 6-1 Ivy) defeated Johns Hopkins 17-6 and Navy 11-10 en route to the program's first Final Four appearance since 1994.

The Terps will have their work cut out for them despite the absence of Brown's top points leader, junior attackman Dylan Molloy, who suffered a broken foot in the win against Johns Hopkins. 

The Bears will call upon senior attackman Kylor Bellestri, a product of the Bullis School in Potomac, Md., to carry the offensive load, and the powerful dodger is more than capable, evident by his 62 goals and 28 assists this season. Aiding Bellestri is senior Henry Blynn, who enters the Final Four with 50 goals to his name.

While Brown does have arguably the most prolific scoring offense in the country, the Terps boast the most efficient defense in the country, and have a talented and experienced goalie in Kyle Bernlohr at the helm. 

Bernlohr was tabbed as a first-team preseason All-American by Inside Lacrosse magazine and has backed it up thanks to an eighth best 7.88 GAA in 2016. 

The Akron, Ohio native tallied 22 saves to just 13 goals in the Terps first two NCAA Tournament games, but will be facing his most difficult test of the season on Saturday afternoon.

But the Terps are more than just an efficient defensive team. The junior attack trio of Matt Rambo, Colin Heacock and Dylan Maltz are as dynamic a trio as ther is in the country, and wreaked havoc on a stout Syracuse team in the quarterfinals. Rambo finished with four goals and two assists, with Maltz scoring three times and Heacock assisting on two goals. 

Opposing teams are forced to exert extra pressure to the Terp' attack, allowing midfielders Henry West, Connor Kelley and Bryan Cole to find time and room up front. Cole has five assists and three goals to his name in the previous two tournament games, with Kelly adding three assists and West three goals.

A victory over Brown will not be easy, but losing is not some the Terps are accustomed to, having won 12 consecutive games since dropping back-to-back losses to Yale and Notre Dame to start the season.

The winner of Maryland vs. Brown will take on the winner of No. 7 Loyola (MD) vs. North Carolina on Monday, May 30 at 1 p.m. ET.