Sunday’s first semifinal was an all-ACC contest as first-year member Notre Dame faced Maryland, a founding member of the conference in its final season before joining the Big Ten.
When the two teams met in late January in College Park, Notre Dame took a 12-point lead into halftime. Maryland made a furious comeback and even led at the midpoint of the second half. Notre Dame regrouped down the stretch to win their 19th straight game to start the season. They haven’t looked back since.
The Fighting Irish entered Sunday’s Final Four matchup with a 36-0 record, one of two unbeaten teams in the nation. This was their fourth straight trip to the Final Four and after losing in the national championship their first two years and falling to UCONN in their semifinal last season, they were looking for another chance at a title.
Maryland was coming off two great wins last weekend against top-seed Tennessee and last year’s national runner-up, Louisville.
The Terrapins got off to a sluggish start on defense. Laurin Mincy came off the bench and scored seven quick points to help Maryland hang in for a while, but once the shots stopped falling, Notre Dame quickly built up a sizeable lead.
Notre Dame dominated on the glass. They grabbed 19 offensive rebounds in the game. In total, they outrebounded Maryland by a staggering 50-21 margin.
That advantage on the boards made up for Notre Dame’s 16 turnovers as it helped them shoot over 50 percent from the floor as a team.
Kayla McBride did the heavy lifting for the Irish. She scored 28 points, almost twice as many as any other player on either team. Maryland’s Brionna Jones and Notre Dame’s Jewell Loyd scored 16 points each.
Reaching the Final Four is certainly an accomplishment to be proud of for the Terps. It is just the fourth appearance in school history and the first since their national title in 2006.
However, losing 87-61 to a team they lost to by just four points in the early part of their conference schedule will not sit well for Brenda Frese or her team.
Maryland will join the Big Ten Conference next year without forward Alyssa Thomas, who scored 14 points Sunday evening. It is a disappointing end to the senior’s career.
Thomas is the all-time scoring leader in Maryland men’s and women’s basketball history. She passed Juan Dixon’s scoring mark during the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.
Maryland will keep dancing through the women’s NCAA Tournament after sneaking away with a 76-73 win over Louisville in the Elite Eight in front of the Cardinals’ home crowd.
Louisville’s head coach, Jeff Walz, a former assistant to Brenda Frese at Minnesota and then at Maryland, had not faced the Terps since their 2012 meeting in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Maryland won that nail-biter 72-68 on their home floor. Louisville, the NCAA Tournament runner-up in 2013, hoped to return the favor on Tuesday night in front of their fans at the KFC Yum! Center.
Shoni Schimmel, a second team All-American guard this year, lived up to all the hype surrounding her final college game in front of her home fans. She led all players in scoring by a wide margin with 31 points.
Maryland’s senior guard Katie Rutan was instrumental in keeping Maryland in the game during the first half. She averaged only 7 points per game this season but scored 12 points in the game’s first 20 minutes on the strength of 4-6 shooting from three.
Alyssa Thomas and freshman point guard Lexie Brown took over the second half, though, and led the Terps to a lead that wound up being just a little too much for Louisville to overcome.
Schimmel’s scored her 31 points despite weathering a cold spell of more than seven minutes in the second half where she missed five straight shots and turned the ball over twice.
Unfortunately for Louisville, Thomas and Brown took advantage to outscore Louisville 22-9 in the first 12 minutes of the second half after Maryland faced a 4-point deficit at the break.
Not many freshmen are able to maintain their composure for 40 minutes in an NCAA Tournament game, and even fewer could do it while facing their opponents’ home crowd. Lexie Brown did.
Brown had trouble getting open looks at the basket, but she made up for that by getting to the foul line often, knocking down 9 of 10 free throws and scoring 20 points in the game.
Maryland (28-6) will face new ACC member Notre Dame (35-0) in the Final Four on Sunday, April 6 at 6:30 p.m.
Notre Dame edged the Terps at Comcast Center in January in the two teams’ only meeting of the season. Maryland battled back from a 12-point halftime deficit to lose by just four points in that contest.
The Fighting Irish will be without starting forward Natalie Achonwa, who tore her left ACL in Monday night’s win over Baylor.
Achonwa had not been a huge factor for the team during the regular season or in the ACC Tournament, but she scored 20.5 points per game in the first four games of the NCAA Tournament, including 19 points against Baylor before she injured her knee.
Maryland’s 61-year history in the Atlantic Coast Conference came to an end Thursday with a 2nd round ACC Tournament loss to Florida State in Greensboro Coliseum.
The NCAA Tournament is out of the question, and Maryland’s victory over No. 5 Virginia on Sunday is the only thing that may allow them to sneak into the NIT.
The Terps took a two-point lead into halftime on the strength of seven made 3-pointers. Maryland cooled off significantly in the second half, though, making just one of eight attempts from beyond the arc.
Florida State went on an 11-0 run in the middle of the second half that looked like it would bury the Terps. Instead, Maryland stayed cool-headed, played good trap defense, and worked their way into the paint to go on a 10-1 run of their own.
The Terps finally fought back to a tie late in the second half, but Florida State forward Okaro White found center Boris Bojanovsky for a dunk with less than half a second left in the game. Dez Wells’s full-court prayer at the buzzer was not answered.
Maryland should consider itself lucky to have even come as close as they did. Their pressure defense kept the game much closer than it should have been. Florida State turned the ball over 19 times in the game.
The Seminoles shot 48 percent from the floor in the game, and even though their 3-point percentage was not very good, they did not attempt nearly as many shots as did Maryland.
The Terps hit less than 40 percent of their field goal attempts in the game.
Maryland had not failed to win at least one ACC Tournament game in four years until Thursday’s 67-65 loss.
The Terps are still four wins away from an NCAA Tournament bid, but after a frustrating season with losses to bad teams and near-victories against good teams, Maryland finally got the monkey off its back on Sunday.
Virginia was one of those semi-close calls when Maryland visited Charlottesville a month ago. The Terps led the then-No. 17 ranked Cavaliers at halftime before letting the game slowly get away from them in the game’s final ten minute.
Maryland hosted No. 5 Virginia on Sunday in their final home game as an ACC program. The Terrapins will join the Big Ten next year.
Aided by a solid 48 percent shooting from the floor and 80 percent from the free throw line, Maryland pulled off the upset on Senior Day. The team’s only senior, forward John Auslander, started the game. He played four minutes and recorded one steal.
Dez Wells had a very efficient game, making five of his seven attempts from the floor and hitting all eight free throw attempts. Only Seth Allen scored more points in the game as the two players led Maryland to its first win against an RPI top 50 team this season.
Jake Layman had a very poor game shooting the ball, making just one of seven attempts from the floor. But he went 8-8 from the free throw line, including 6-6 in the final moments of regulation and in overtime. Layman has struggled with clutch free throw shooting this season but he deserves a lot of credit for Sunday’s win.
It was sophomore guard Seth Allen, though, who took over the game in overtime. He scored five points, including two really nice drives to the hoop that screamed “next level.” He also had a really nice block early in the period that helped the Terps jump out to a five-point lead that they never looked back from as they went on to win 75-69.
Normally, storming the court seems silly, especially with how overdone it has been in college basketball over the past couple years. But considering the way Maryland’s season has gone, it seems fitting that the students got to storm the court at Comcast in the Terps’ final ACC home game.
Maryland gets a few days off and then they will play their first ACC Tournament game in Greensboro on Thursday. They will be ranked as high as No. 7 or as low as No. 9 in the tournament.
The Terps could see Virginia again as soon as Friday, assuming they win their first game. Maryland has not lost their first matchup of the conference tournament since 2010 when Georgia Tech upset the Terrapins, who were ranked No. 2 in the tournament and No. 19 in the nation.
The rivalry ended the only way it could, in a blaze of suspense as the ball hung along the rim and time seemed to freeze. If only the ball had fallen on the other side of that rim.
Maryland got its last laugh against Duke at Comcast last year. Then the Terps got what could be the last laugh against Duke in last year’s ACC Tournament. We came that close to getting a true last laugh in front of the Cameron Crazies on Saturday night.
Of course, Maryland was doomed to lose. The ACC was never going to allow them to beat Duke. The Blue Devils shot a very un-Duke-like 20-percent from three-point range, but thanks to a few bad calls and several even worse missed calls, Duke attempted 15 more free throws than the Terps.
All in all, Maryland played a very good game. They outrebounded Duke on both sides of the court and only turned the ball over three more times than the Blue Devils.
“Cupcake” Jake Layman, who usually struggles against the ACC, had a really solid performance, putting up 12 points in the first half.
The x-factor in the game for Maryland was Dez Wells. He’s been consistent this season, but not in the way the Terps have needed him to be. Wells typically doesn’t take a lot of shots in the first half and then explodes down the stretch, usually too late to lift his team to victory.
On Saturday, Wells only took one shot in the first half, thanks in part to some early foul trouble, and had no points at halftime. Maryland trailed by six. But he put his team on his shoulders in the second half. Seth Allen was almost a non-factor, so someone had to carry the load and Wells sure did.
He shot 70-percent from the floor in the second half, including a really nice three pointer after a couple of pump fakes. He finished the second half with 17 points and only two turnovers.
Even though Seth Allen wasn’t much of a factor on offense, he once again shut down Quinn Cook defensively, allowing Duke’s point guard just six points on 25-percent shooting from the floor.
Maryland also got a highlight play from Nick Faust on a one-handed put-back jam.
It’s become increasingly apparent that the Terps have been built for Duke. There is no high-caliber team Maryland matches up with as well as they do with the Blue Devils.
A lot of the accolades have to go to Mark Turgeon. He’s struggled in his third season, but it takes a heck of a coach to get a team within two point of beating Duke after losing the size Alex Len brought to the table in those two victories last season.
The Maryland-Virginia rivalry doesn’t get a lot of publicity nationally. It’s no Duke-North Carolina or Michigan-Ohio State. But locals and diehard fans of both teams know just how important this “Border War” is to both schools.
In Maryland’s last trip to the John Paul Jones Arena as an ACC member, the Terps were looking to keep their conference record north of .500 and hand the No. 17 ranked Cavaliers just their second ACC loss on the season.
The two teams combined to attempt just one free throw in the first half. Maryland didn’t shoot a very high percentage from the floor, but four 3-pointers helped net them a one-point lead at halftime.
Dez Wells has been a second-half spark for the Terps recently, often taking a back seat in the first half and then taking over down the stretch. Maryland didn’t get that spark on Monday. Wells made two of four attempts in the first half and then two of seven in the second, finishing with just 12 points.
Seth Allen’s hot hand in Saturday’s Florida State game did not carry over to Charlottesville. He made a late three, but that was the only one he made on six attempts from outside. He did shoot 6-8 from inside the arc, but his 15 points were not enough to lift the Terps.
Neither team shot well from the free throw line, but Virginia shot a higher percentage from the floor, thanks in part to 16 team assists. Their 61-53 victory over Maryland is just their second single-digit ACC win this season. Their only conference loss was a narrow 69-65 defeat at Duke in January.
Maryland will play at Duke on Saturday. Jake Layman struggled in the second half against Virginia, possibly because of an eye injury he suffered just before halftime. But he was playing very well defensively before that and Maryland hopes to have him healthy for their visit to Cameron Indoor.
One thing Maryland will have to take advantage of in that game will be fatigue. Duke will be playing a rivalry game at North Carolina Wednesday at 9 p.m. and will have less than three days to rest before hosting the Terrapins.
The Blue Devils have shown some inconsistency this season, but they are 7-1 in their last eight games and Maryland will have their work cut out for them this weekend.
Nobody considers Florida State to be more than a bubble team at this point in the season. But let’s not downplay how important this win was for Maryland.
The Seminoles have beaten ranked VCU and UMASS teams this season and played very close games against ranked Michigan and Florida teams. In addition, Florida State crushed the Terps in Tallahassee a month ago on the power of 16 three-point baskets.
Maryland turned the tables on Saturday by knocking down ten three-pointers and shooting 82.6-percent from the free throw line.
Seth Allen scored 21 points, shooting 7-9 from the floor and 4-6 from three, in the first half. He poured it on in the second half and crushed his career-high with 32 points, shooting 73.3-percent from the floor.
Jake Layman was a big contributor to Maryland’s 46-29 halftime lead, hitting four of seven shots including two big three-pointers. He cooled off in the second half but made up for it with four defensive rebounds and a blocked shot.
Once again, Dez Wells got off to a slow start for Maryland. It was good that Allen did so well in the first half because Wells only took two shots and scored just 2 points in the first 20 minutes. But Wells made up for Jake Layman’s lack of second half production, shooting 3-5 from the floor with a three pointer and 6-7 from the free throw line for a total of 13 second-half points.
It was by far the best first half performance for Maryland this season, and it was as close to a complete game as they’ve played all year. The problem for the Terps was their inability to box out effectively. They allowed 20 offensive rebounds, which allowed Florida State to out-rebound them by a 38-31 margin.
Because of their rebounding problems, Florida State hung around and kept Maryland fans from getting comfortable. Maryland did a good job of closing out the game with their free throw shooting, though, and wound up with an 83-71 victory.
It’s nice to get the win, especially after the whooping Florida State gave Maryland last month, but it’s going to take continued hot shooting and a much better effort on the glass to get road wins at No. 20 Virginia and No. 11 Duke next week.
The Terrapins were in Chapel Hill Tuesday night for their last regular season matchup with the Tar Heels as a member of the ACC. North Carolina has had a rough season so far and it seemed like a good opportunity to get the last laugh against one of our conference rivals.
Road wins have come at a premium for Maryland though. They won at Boston College in December and in Blacksburg on Saturday. Whether it was being away from home or if it was the short rest, the Terps struggled at UNC on Tuesday.
Maryland fell behind 11-0 in the first two minutes of the game, forcing Mark Turgeon to burn a timeout. Three minutes later, the Terps faced a 19-3 deficit. An 8-0 run aided by three turnovers by North Carolina helped Maryland close the gap and eventually pull to within 24-21. They never got any closer than that.
What is remarkable about this game is that North Carolina’s 12-point margin of victory should have been much larger. They made just 19 of 37 free throws, or 51.4 percent.
Unfortunately for Maryland, free throw shooting was the only percentage they led the Tar Heels in, and they didn’t make it to the line enough for it to matter anyway. North Carolina hit on 49 percent of their shots and 40 percent from three.
Marcus Paige did most of the damage from outside, connecting on four 3-pointers. He was also an anomaly for North Carolina, shooting 9-11 on three throws. He led all players with 25 points.
One player Maryland seemed not to account for was forward Brice Johnson. He came off the bench to make all eight shots from the floor and finished with 19 points.
Dez Wells led Maryland with 18 points but he struggled early in the game. He turned the ball over a couple times in the first half when he was fouled in the act of shooting a 3-pointer, he missed all three free throws. Normally a very good free throw shooter, he had four total misses from the line in the first half. He cleaned things up and scored 13 points in the second half, but it was too late for Maryland.
Charles Mitchell had a good stretch in the first half, scoring five points in a 90-second window. Unfortunately those were his only points of the night and he was mostly what we have come to expect from the big man; he’s a good rebounder, he had five offensive boards and 13 total rebounds, but little more.
There were a lot of disappointing performances for the Terps, but maybe none more than Roddy Peters. The freshman guard played just six minutes but turned the ball over three times!
Hats off to North Carolina. They started 0-3 in conference play with bad losses to Wake Forest and Miami. The Heels have now won four in a row and are 5-4 against the ACC with a road test against Notre Dame on Saturday before hosting Duke and Pittsburgh next week.
For Maryland, sitting at 13-10, it looks like an ACC Tournament title is our only ticket to the dance. Even the NIT is slipping from our realm of possibility.
Nick Faust is enjoying a two-game resurgence and fans hope he can continue his hot streak. In Tuesday’s win over North Carolina Central, Faust tied his career-high with 19 points, shooting 5-11 from the field and 3-6 from three.
In Saturday’s ACC home opener, the last one Maryland will ever play, Faust led the Terps with 16 points, shooting 6-8 overall and 4-6 from long range.
Evan Smotrycz added 14 points to Maryland’s winning effort against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
The Terps were a little weaker on the boards than usual, but that can mostly be attributed to Georgia Tech sporting two of the ACC’s three leading rebounders.
Perhaps the best stat of the day was that the Terps only turned the ball over six times. For a team that’s been known to turn the ball over as many as eight time in a half, that’s a great number.
As a team, Maryland hit on 46.7 percent of their shots and an astounding 52.6 percent from three. They still struggled from the free throw line, hitting on just 11 of 17 from the line. But with the team shooting the lights out from the field, there was a significant decrease in groans heard from the stands.
After limping through their non-conference schedule to the tune of an 8-5 record, it was uplifting to see Maryland come out and play two solid halves of basketball against an ACC opponent.
Now we’ll try for a third straight win in ACC play on Monday night at Pittsburgh. The Panthers are 13-1 and won their ACC opener on Saturday at NC State, outscoring the Wolfpack by 20 in the second half to overcome a 34-26 halftime deficit.
Maryland made its first appearance in the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship match since 2008 on Sunday. Looking to join San Francisco and UCLA in a tie for the fourth most NCAA titles, Maryland instead fell flat against Notre Dame as the Fighting Irish won their first men’s soccer title in school history. They already had three championships on the women’s side.
Handballs ruled the game as the refs missed two clear calls against Notre Dame. Maryland fans can’t complain too much, though. Senior forward Patrick Mullins scored the Terps’ only goal by purposefully knocking the ball down with his hand and then finishing with his left foot, he admitted after the game.
The referee who missed both calls against Notre Dame is MLS referee Chico Grajeda. But after the game, Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski was very gracious.
“I think Chico is the best referee in the country,” Cirovski said. “I think once I review it on video, I’m sure I might be hurting a little more. But at this point we have no control over any part of the situation, and I have no regrets about the game.”
Instead of focusing on Maryland’s first NCAA title loss since 1962, Cirovski chose to focus on supporting his star forward, whose conscience affected him the rest of the game after he scored Maryland’s first and only goal of the contest.
Even though replays do not definitively show Mullins using his hand to knock the ball down before his goal, he admitted to it by himself after the game. Cirovski believes that his post-game openness should ease the minds of any MLS teams who may have otherwise second-guessed his integrity and chosen not to draft him next year.
Mullins scored 47 goals in his career at Maryland, placing him in second on the program’s all-time list.
Despite the loss, Maryland enjoyed a very successful season. For the first and last time, Maryland is the back-to-back ACC champion and it was the first time Maryland appeared in a second consecutive College Cup since the 2004 and 2005 seasons.