Freshman guard Seth Allen calmly sank two free throws with 2.8 seconds to play and the season on the line, giving the Maryland Terrapins their biggest win of the year over the #2 Duke Blue Devils 83-81, causing frenzied fans to storm the court while the players hugged and jumped for joy at the sold out and delirious Comcast Center.
The tallest Terrapin, 7-foot-1 center Alex Len, came out of his shell and played his best game of the year before NBA scouts. The possible lottery pick scored a team-leading 19 points while outplaying his rival, senior Mason Plumlee. Len also snagged a team-high nine rebounds while swatting away three shots.
Plumlee finished with four points and three rebounds well below his average of nearly 18 points and 10.4 rebounds a game.
The win gives the Terps a record of 18-7, 6-6 in ACC play. They are in sixth place in the league, but more importantly, the victory still gives them a chance to dance later in the year if they can string together a few more wins and beat North Carolina at home and a good Virginia team on the road later in the year.
Blue Devil Seth Curry led all players with 25 points and hit key threes down the stretch to give his team a chance to win. The Terrapins overcame a poor foul at the three-point-line, which allowed Duke to tie the game at 81-81 with 16 seconds to play. Maryland then let Allen go one on one and his dribble-drive drew the foul, which led to the winning two shots.
A Duke heave just past the half court line only slightly delayed the mad rush to mid court and did not change the outcome. The victory gave Terrapin fans what they were waiting for—a signature win over hated rival Duke and hope that the team, which had such high hopes while winning 13-straight earlier in the year, will avoid playing in the dreaded consolation prize N.I.T. Tournament later in the season.
The Terrapins were leading at halftime 35-34 and never trailed in the second half. They were able to overcome 26 turnovers by shooting 60 percent from the field. They also out-rebounded the Blue Devils 40-20 and twice built 10-point leads in the second half.
The Terps also made 23 of 31second half free throws, none more important than the last two. Poor free throw shooting has been a concern for the Terrapins this season, but in this game, they shot 73.5 percent at the line, and their accuracy allowed them to either be tied with Duke or ahead the entire second half.
The dramatic ending had Maryland up 77-67 with 3:39 to play but Duke would not quit and nothing has been easy in league play for these youthful Terrapins.
Duke’s Quinn Cook hit an old-school three-point-play making the score 77-70 to set up the exciting finish. Curry hit a three pointer with 1:47 to play and another with less than a minute to play closing the gap to a nail-biting 80-78.
Maryland had the ball with 38 ticks on the clock but Dez Wells was called for a charging foul. Fortunately for Maryland fans, Curry missed on Duke’s next possession and a foul shot by Jake Layman gave the Terps a three-point cushion with 26 seconds to play.
Unfortunately, Layman, who finished with eight points, also committed a poorly-timed foul at the three-point line, allowing Rasheed Sulaimon the chance to sink three in a row, and tie the score.
Allen, who scored five of the Terps final six points, then drove to the basket and a Cook foul sent him to the free throw line, where the hero smiled and buried the shots and the Blue Devils.
Allen scored 16 points but committed eight turnovers. With Pe’Shon Howard on the bench for breaking team rules, he had the ball in his hands more often and thankfully for Terrapin fans the good outweighed the bad.
Wells had nine points and a team-leading seven assists to go along with seven rebounds and had a splendid all-around game.
For Duke, Cook finished with 18 points and Sulaimon chipped in 16 in a losing effort. The Blue Devils are now 22-3, 9-3 in ACC play– good for second place behind Miami and fell to #6 in the latest polls.
For Maryland, with games against Duke coming to an end soon because Maryland is moving to the Big Ten in 2014, the Terrapins were content to celebrate the most important win of this topsy-turvy season and the biggest victory of the Coach Turgeon era.