After winning two straight ACC games and playing arguably their best basketball of the season, Maryland entered Tuesday's game in Chapel Hill hoping to pick up one last win against one of their longtime ACC rivals. Unfortunately for the Terps, an incredibly fast star by the Tar Heels put Maryland into a hole they were unable to dig themselves out of as they fell to UNC, 75-63.
The Tar Heels were led by Marcus Paige, who scored a game high 25 points for UNC. Brice Johnson scored 19 for North Carolina on a perfect 8/8 from the field.
Dez Wells returned to the starting lineup for Maryland after starting on the bench last game due to being late for a team breakfast. Wells' presence didn't help Maryland, as the Tar Heels jumped out to a 12-0 lead to open the game. The Terps didn't score until almost four minutes into the game, when Evan Smotrycz hit a three pointer to finally get Maryland on the board. But the Tar Heels continued to build their lead, the result of a 19-3 run, one which Maryland would never recover from.
The Terps collected themselves and mounted an 8-0 run to cut the Tar Heels lead to eight with 12:31 remaining in the first half. Both teams traded baskets, but Maryland once again went on a run to cut the North Carolina lead to three, led by Charles Mitchell, who dominated the offensive glass and gave Maryland several second chance points in the early going.
But Mitchell picked up his second foul, forcing head coach Mark Turgeon to send the sophomore to the bench. Jake Layman, Shaq Cleare and Dez Wells also picked up two fouls in the first half, limiting the minutes for several of Maryland's key players.
After trailing by just three, the Terps failed to make a basket over the final 6:25 of the 1st half, scoring just four points during that stretch on a pair of free throws by Dez Wells and Jake Layman. UNC went on a 12-2 run to close out the half, giving them a 12 point halftime lead. UNC had ten steals in the first half, accounting for the majority of the 12 Maryland committed in the game's first 20 minutes.
The second half opened with both teams trading baskets, as UNC maintained their twelve point led. But in the process, Maryland continued to rack up fouls, as Jon Graham picked up his forth, with Layman, Mitchell, and Smotrycz all getting their third before the midway point of the second half. Mitchell would end up fouling out in the game's final minute, while five other Maryland players finished with four.
UNC consistently tried to build on their lead, but the Terps hung around, fighting back to eventually get within seven with just over nine minutes left in the game after Dez Wells completed an old fashion three point play after being fouled while driving to the basket. But immediately after, UNC's Marcus Paige hit a three pointer and was fouled by Seth Allen. Paige completed the rare four point play, pushing the Tar Heels lead back up to 11.
But Seth Allen made up for his mistake, hitting a three pointer which was quickly followed up by a Dez Wells turn around jumper, pulling the Terrapins within six. The Tar Heels again responded, going back up by 11 thanks to Marcus Paige, who hit jump shot and three pointer.
The Terps continued to cut into the Tar Heel lead, getting within single digits a number of times, but UNC always had an answer, pulling away in the final minutes to secure what will likely be their last regular season game against Maryland for the foreseeable future.
Dez Wells led Maryland with 18, but turnovers and Maryland's inability to contain UNC's Marcus Paige (25 pts) ultimately doomed Maryland, who fell to 13-10 and 5-5 in the ACC.