The game plan for the NCAA Tournament first round game didn’t call for Maryland to fall into a 13-point hole by the halfway point of the first half and an eight-point deficit. It did call for the Terrapins to shrug off those type of situations, though.
Maryland, the No. 8 seed in the South Region, didn’t blink early in the game, surged back in the second half and emerged with a 67-65 victory over No. 9 seed West Virginia in Legacy Arena at the BJCC.
Maryland’s reward is probably a second round game against No. 1 seed Alabama on Saturday.
“I just told the team just keep fighting,” said Maryland’s Donta Dixon. “You get down, you don't want to get down on yourselves. At that time, it's battle time. Time to lock in. Do some of the things that you probably weren't doing before, just get after it. My team had my back, and they just grinded with me, and stuck it out and had that toughness in them.”
West Virginia (19-15) was really good early, building a 19-6 lead with the final six points coming on 3-pointers by Joe Touissaint. The bulk of the success came on the other end as they forced Maryland point guard Jahmir Young into three early turnovers.
“Yeah, I think it's one thing to practice against that defense for a couple days,” Maryland coach Kevin Willard said. “It's another thing to all of a sudden see a Coach (Bob) Huggins' defense live. For anything, it was just getting him to kind of calm down, see it. We have total confidence in him. And I think once he kind of saw it and everybody saw it, it was like a boxing match. He got hit a couple times, and I think it just relaxed him. He was able to see it. And I thought he was pretty good the rest of the game.”
By halftime, the Terrapins (22-12) had surged ahead, taking a 32-30 lead on a Patrick Emilien jumper with 45 seconds left before halftime. Maryland built the lead to 38-31 after a 3-pointer by Don Carey with 18:33 left.
West Virginia’s Kedrian Johnson then went to work. He had 12 of the Mountaineers’ points on a 16-0 run. His 3-pointer with 15:08 left gave West Virginia a 47-38 lead. Carey ended the scoreless stretch with another 3-pointers and Maryland battled back once again.
Maryland took the lead for good with 3:44 left and held on down the stretch, largely behind 6-foot-9 sophomore Julian Reese (17 points, nine rebounds). West Virginia’s final shot was a hurried 3-pointer by Johnson that didn’t come close.
Johnson finished with 27 points for West Virginia.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email email@example.com.
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.