Terps end Deacs’ season
Heading toward an inbounds play with about 90 seconds left, the five Maryland players on the court were all smiles.
Having caused Wake Forest’s offense to crack and up 14 on the way to what became a 75-62 victory over Wake Forest in the first round of the ACC Tournament on Thursday, the Terrapins (21-11) knew they were headed to another shot at Duke in today’s quarterfinals.
Wake (13-18) heads back to Winston-Salem having failed to pick up its first tournament victory since 2007, having come unglued on offense over the last eight minutes.
The unraveling came after the score was tied at 54. Wake managed just five free throws over the next 6:30 as the Terps went up 72-58. The meltdown came after the Deacons led by five at the half and after 10 lead changes and four ties in the second.
“We didn’t do what we did well in the first half,” Wake coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “We had nine turnovers in the second half, and they were bad turnovers, after five in the first half. We coupled that with missed free throws and the game got away from us.”
The poor free-throw shooting included making just 4 of 10 on five trips to the line. Sprinkle in two more empty possessions and the lead was 64-58 with four minutes to go. Maryland scored on four of its next five trips while the Deacons didn’t score as the lead grew to 14.
“I thought we tried to force too much on the break, not making good decisions, trying to force the action too much,” Bzdelik said.
Dez Wells led the Terrapin surge, scoring 14 of his game-high 21 points in the second half. Seth Allen and Alex Len each added 11 while Nick Fast and Pe’Shon Howard had 10 each.
Maryland set the tone for the second half by coming out with more fire and scoring six in a row to take the lead.
“I got after the guys after halftime and talked about energy,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “We came out with more energy. We got our offense going but didn’t get our defense going until the end.”
C.J. Harris closed his career by leading the Deacons with 19 points but didn’t have a field goal after the break. Thomas added 14 as he drove past the 7-1 Len but Wake’s inside game that had been vibrant in the first half went stale down the stretch.
“I think we got C.J. the ball where he wanted the ball,” Wake’s Devin Thomas said. “I think we were just careless with our passes on the fast break.”
The loss came on a day when a group of fans wanting Bzdelik fired after three losing seasons placed ads prominently in multiple publications.
“I don’t read the papers and I don’t look at the Internet,” Bzdelik said. “I only watch TV when I need to watch games. So I don’t know what you are talking about.”