Maryland has been great in close games throughout the 2014-15 season and that trend continued in a 65-62 win over No. 13 seed Valparaiso on Friday in the Midwest Regional. The No. 4 seed Terrapins went 11-1 in games decided by six points or less during the season, and once again, played with tremendous confidence and poise down the stretch in a tight game.
The Crusaders had a chance to tie on the game’s final possession, but junior point guard Keith Carter’s 3-pointer was stripped by Maryland senior guard Varun Ram, and Terrapin forward Evan Smotrycz grabbed the ball as time expired. The play probably could have been whistled for a foul, but no call was made by officials.
The offense for Maryland was balanced as senior guard Dez Wells and freshmen Melo Trimble and Jared Nickens all finished with 14 points each. Valparaiso was able to stay in the contest thanks to strong 3-point shooting (12-for-26), but couldn’t get over the hump in the game’s final minutes. Sophomore forward Alec Peters led the Crusaders with 18 points, while guard Tevonn Walker contributed 14 points.
With the game tied at 49 with 6:23 to go, Nickens nailed two free throws to give Maryland the lead for good. From there, Maryland held a lead between one and six points for the rest of the game as they closed out another tight game thanks to solid free-throw shooting (18-for-24) and a big 3-point play from Wells with 1:44 left off of a fantastic offensive rebound and finish in traffic.
Mark Turgeon’s team moves on to face No. 5 seed West Virginia in the Midwest Regional on Sunday. The Mountaineers defeated No. 12 seed Buffalo earlier on Friday.