Dez Wells scored 21 points, all in the second half, on a perfect shooting night from the field, helping Maryland escape with a three point win over the Miami Hurricanes Wednesday evening, 74-71 at the Comcast Center. Wells' three point basket with eight seconds left secured the win for the Terps, who blew a late lead against the Canes.
Jonathan Graham started in place of Shaquille Cleare, and got off to a good start early with some nice defense on Tonye Jekiri inside and a defensive rebound. After two straight Miami buckets to open the game, Jake Layman hit a three to help keep things from spiraling out of control early. The Terps took their first lead of the game a little under five minutes into it, when Seth Allen hit a three from the corner to make it 8-7.
Miami led 14-11 with around 12 minutes to go, but the Terps came storming back. Evan Smotrycz hit a three (his second of the day) from the corner, and Roddy Peters recorded a steal before driving down into the lane, drawing the foul and making the circus basket.
Nick Faust played fantastic defense throughout the game, disrupting passing lanes, forcing turnovers and just generally being a nuisance to the Hurricanes.
The Terps played much of the first half without Dez Wells, who got in foul trouble early. Wells was able to come in with a little less than five minutes to play in the half and spark a little run, with Peters hitting a pull-up jumper (!) and Wells grabbing a steal and bumping it to Layman, who finished with the emphatic dunk to make the score 26-23. A late three-pointer by Donnavan Kirk gave Miami the lead back at 29-28 with around 20 seconds to play, but Seth Allen drove to the hoop and scored with just over a second left to make it 30-29 at halftime.
Maryland came out with the same starters in the second half and quickly pushed their lead up to five after both teams traded the lead to start the half. The Terps continued to build their lead with a 7-2 run sparked by Jake Layman, who hit a jump shot and three pointer before Charles Mitchell scored a layup to give Maryland their largest lead of the night. Maryland converted five of their first six shots in the half.
Miami then went on a 10-2 run to tie the game at 50 behind six quick points from Davon Reed, who scored off a steal, free throw and three point basket in just two minutes. Jake Layman finally stopped the Miami run with a layup and Dez Wells turned a steal into two more points to give the lead back to the Terps, 54-50 with 10:55 remaining in the game.
After playing a zone defense all night, Miami switched to a man to man defense and turned a Maryland missed shot into a three point basket that gave the Canes a one point lead, the 9th lead change of the game. But on the ensuing Maryland possession, Dez Wells drew contact and went to the line, scoring two for the Terps and giving the lead back to Maryland.
Miami again tied it after making one of two free throws, but Nick Faust gave the lead back to Maryland, making a three pointer at the top of the key after Evan Smotrycz drove to the basket and pulled Faust's defender towards the basket.
Maryland seemed like they were finally going to be able to pull away from the Hurricanes, led by Wells, who scored ten of 12 Maryland points during one stretch. But Miami wasn't finished. After Maryland pushed their lead to 10, the Canes continued to fight back, using full court press to force Maryland into committing turnovers.
With an eight point lead, Nick Faust fouled Rion Brown while shooting a three, with just under a minute remaining. Brown went to the line and made all three, cutting the Maryland lead down to five. A few seconds later, Miami made a layup and cut the lead down to three after Seth Allen missed the front end of a one and one.
Allen was fouled and again went to the line and again missed the front end of a one and one, allowing Miami's Rion Brown to make a three to tie it with 19 seconds left. Maryland then put the ball in the hands of their second half star, Dez Wells, who hit a three pointer with eight seconds left, giving the lead back to the Terps.
After in-bounding the ball and calling a timeout, Maryland intentionally fouled Manu Lecomte, preventing the Canes from being able attempt a three point shot. Lecomte missed his first free throw attempt and tried to intentionally miss the second, but Evan Smotrycz secured the rebound and the Terps pulled out the victory.
The win improves Maryland's record to 12-9 and 4-4 in ACC play. The Terps will take on Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on Saturday at noon.