CRAZY END­ING

Terps rally from 9 down in fi­nal 2:21, sur­vive on Huerter’s blocked shot

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Don Markus

WASH­ING­TON — As the fouls piled up on his play­ers, the frus­tra­tion boiled in­side Mary­land coach Mark Tur­geon on Tues­day night at Ver­i­zon Cen­ter against Ge­orge­town un­til he got whis­tled for a tech­ni­cal mid­way through the sec­ond half.

A half­time tie had turned into a nine-point deficit for the Terps with 2:21 re­main­ing, and Tur­geon was blam­ing him­self for con­tribut­ing to his team’s seem­ingly fad­ing among a steady flow of free throws by the Hoyas. Sun­day, 2 p.m. Video: ESPN3 Ra­dio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM, 1300 AM

“I thought it hurt us,” Tur­geon said of the tech­ni­cal. “It was a two-point game when it hap­pened, all of a sud­den we’re down eight or nine. I felt bad for the team, I felt like I let ’em down a lit­tle bit. In the end, we just kept play­ing and we got lucky.”

Though the free-throw dis­crep­ancy was nearly the re­verse of what hap­pened be­tween these two lo­cal ri­vals last sea­son in Col­lege Park, the out­come was the same.

Two de­fen­sive gems by fresh­man wing Kevin Huerter book­ended a pair of free throws by Mary­land ju­nior guard Melo Trim­ble with 7.6 sec­onds left as the Terps beat the Hoyas, 76-75, for the sec­ond straight year in the Gavitt Tipoff Games.

Af­ter Huerter forced Ge­orge­town guard Rod­ney Pryor to step onto the side­line, Trim­ble was fouled deep in Mary­land’s back­court, tak­ing the in­bounds pass. He made both free throws to put the Terps ahead.

On Ge­orge­town’s fi­nal pos­ses­sion, fresh­man guard Ja­gan Mosely took the in­bounds pass, drove the length of the court and tried to draw a foul on the 6-7 Huerter, who used his 4-inch height ad­van­tage to cleanly block the shot.

“When he went up, to be hon­est, I said to my­self, ‘Go straight up,’ ” Huerter said. “I was try­ing to avoid the con­tact. I thought he’d try to kind of lean in and go around. When I went up, I was mainly go­ing to con­test the shot and I kind of turned and blocked it I guess off the back­board.”

Huerter’s block — and the fi­nal horn — set off a wild cel­e­bra­tion by the Terps at mid­court, with Tur­geon stomp­ing his feet sev­eral times as he hugged his as­sis­tants and then his play­ers. When the team got to the locker room, play­ers doused Tur­geon with wa­ter.

Since the Hoyas will be the high­est-rated team Mary­land will play in its non­con­fer­ence sched­ule — and the game was tech­ni­cally on the road — it will be some­thing that could help the Terps with their RPI later in the sea­son.

Trim­ble fin­ished with 22 points, in­clud­ing 18 in the sec­ond half, and fresh­man for­ward Justin Jackson added 17 points and seven re­bounds for Mary­land (2-0), which had dropped out of the As­so­ci­ated Press Top 25 for the first time in nearly two years af­ter a come-from-be­hind, six-point sea­sonopen­ing win over Amer­i­can at home Friday.

The Terps were a bit more im­pres­sive, es­pe­cially late, against Ge­orge­town.

“The last two years have just been great games, and we’ve been for­tu­nate to come out on top in both games, we beat a great team tonight,” Tur­geon said. “I was wor­ried sick. We went twice on Sun­day, we went 21⁄ hours [Mon­day] , we had a walk-through last night, we had a walk-through this morn­ing, we had shoot-around be­cause I knew how good Ge­orge­town was. Then they started to make some shots and they made ev­ery free throw. Our guys never quit; they kept com­pet­ing.”

Ge­orge­town, which was com­ing off a 45-point win at home over South Caroli­naUp­state, was led by ju­nior for­ward L.J. Peak, who scored 21.

The Hoyas had built what seemed to be a com­fort­able 68-59 lead by go­ing to the free-throw line fre­quently, and mak­ing their shots there. They fin­ished 37-for-42 at the stripe. The Terps made 17 of 22.

“It was hard for both teams, it’s early sea­son, and I think a lot of our fouls is be­cause Ge­orge­town has such good play­ers,” said Tur­geon, whose team com­mit­ted 17 fouls in the first half — nearly evenly dis­trib­uted, with eight play­ers pick­ing up two each — and 32 for the game.

“They were re­ally hard to guard. We put so much time into press of­fense we prob­a­bly didn’t put enough time into guard­ing the bas­ket­ball.”

Said Trim­ble: “It was a crazy game. We fought through­out the whole game. It was tied [31-31] at half­time, but they pretty much had the lead the sec­ond half. We just kept fight­ing. We played with a group of fresh­men that had never been in that en­vi­ron­ment. Just for them to go out there and play the way they did and step up when we needed them to was very spe­cial.”

Though Trim­ble has played in more hos­tile set­tings — by the end of the game, the Mary­land fans were louder than the Ge­orge­town fans — it marked the first big game for fresh­man point guard An­thony Cowan Jr. (11 points, five as­sists, five re­bounds) and fel­low rook­ies Jackson and Huerter.

“Hon­estly, it was my first time play­ing in an en­vi­ron­ment like this,” said Jackson, who played two years at Find­ley Prep in Las Ve­gas be­fore fin­ish­ing his prep ca­reer in his na­tive On­tario, where it started.

“It was nerve-wrack­ing a lit­tle bit, but the con­fi­dence my team­mates had in me­and my coaches had in me, I would be able to get over the hump.”

The loss seemed dev­as­tat­ing to the Hoyas. As his son’s team went de­ject­edly into their locker room, for­mer Ge­orge­town coach John Thompson Jr., the pro­gram’s pa­tri­arch, sat with his eyes closed on a chair.

At his postgame news con­fer­ence John Thompson III had trou­ble ar­tic­u­lat­ing his thoughts.

“Not that it’s rocket sci­ence, we know what we did wrong,” he said. “We can’t make those mis­takes com­ing down to the end. I’m not tak­ing any­thing away from their de­fen­sive ef­fort and their fo­cus com­ing down the stretch; it’s hard sit­ting here com­ing up with some­thing pos­i­tive, but I thought we played well for long stretches and in the end there’s a lot we can learn from it.”

MANUEL BALCE CENETA/AP

Fresh­man Kevin Huerter blocks a shot by Ge­orge­town’s Ja­gan Mosely to seal Mary­land’s come­back vic­tory at Ver­i­zon Cen­ter.

TONI L. SANDYS/THE WASH­ING­TON POST

Mary­land play­ers cel­e­brate af­ter their come-from-be­hind vic­tory over Ge­orge­town. “It was a crazy game,” Terps guard Melo Trim­ble said.

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