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Maryland-West Virginia final score: 3 things we learned from the Terps' 69-59 loss

The Mountaineers created too much havoc for the Terps to overcome in a season-ending defeat.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The Maryland men's basketball team's fine season ended in Columbus Sunday night, with a 69-59 loss to West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament's Round of 32.

The No. 4-seeded Terrapins played the No. 5 Mountaineers tight throughout the first half. But the game turned out of hand as Maryland turnovers mounted late, and a head injury to Melo Trimble sealed Maryland's fate in what became an ugly finish to a comeback season. 

The Terps (28-7) shot decently from the field but couldn't overcome the Mountaineers' hellacious ball pressure and offensive rebounding. Maryland shot 48 percent to West Virginia's 40 percent, but the Mountaineers' 16 second-chance points and whopping 23 takeaways were dooming.

For Maryland, Trimble finished his remarkable freshman season with 15 points and 7 rebounds before exiting with a head injury in the second half. In his final college game, Dez Wells struggled to get 9 points on 3-of-8 shooting. Jake Layman and Jared Nickens added 10 and 6 points for Maryland, respectively.

The game's first half was just so much fun. West Virginia loves to create havoc, with all the good and bad that brings with it. In the first half, the Mountaineers' relentless ball pressure brought a lot of Maryland turnovers, but it also brought a series of open looks for the Terps to knock down – a couple of three-pointers by Layman, Nickens and Evan Smotrycz, and a couple of gorgeous dunks by Michal Cekovsky. The Terps made more of their shots, but West Virginia's relentless pounding of the offensive glass helped it keep the game close. Wells had five turnovers before he scored his first points on a late triple just before the half, and he coughed up the ball against pressure again in the last minute. Maryland shot 55 percent against West Virginia's 36 percent in the half, but West Virginia's nine offensive rebounds and 10-0 second-chance point edge sent the Mountaineers into the half with a 35-24 lead.

As the second half began to wear on, Maryland's season came off the rails. Trimble fell victim to a vicious moving screen from West Virginia's Nathan Adrian, then returned before going down with an apparent head injury in the midst of a massive Mountaineer run that turned a one-possession game into a nine-point problem. The Terps' first-half struggles in holding the ball didn't get any better, and a back-and-forth game transitioned to increasing one-sidedness. Maryland could barely retain possession long enough to threaten on offense, and West Virginia dominated play with steals and rebounds. Ultimately, Maryland never came close to recovering.

Three things we learned

Melo was marvelous to the end. That cat has been out of the bag on Trimble for a while, so it's not like his final effort on Sunday was much of a surprise. He and Wells have been Maryland's saviors for much of the season, but Wells ran into hard times against a pressuring West Virginia team that sped him up and took him out of his comfort zone. The duty of breaking West Virginia's press and keeping Maryland's offense on track against a punchy opponent fell almost completely to Trimble, and he didn't disappoint - no matter the final result or the way he exited. Whatever Trimble's basketball future holds, for Maryland, he was a godsend.

Maryland succumbed to predictable problems. West Virginia is a top-five turnover-creating and offensive rebounding team, so it made sense that the Mountaineers would give the Terps problems in those areas. With West Virginia's ball pressure, Maryland took advantage to earn a lot of open-enough shots in the first half, but the Terps couldn't help themselves from giving up the ball all game. They've been pounded on their defensive glass for weeks now, and the Mountaineers' board-crashing was no exception. Ultimately, it was too much to overcome, especially without Trimble down the stretch.

Maryland had flaws, but this season was a breakthrough. The Terps were unbreakable in close games almost all year, and their record was probably better than their true talent level. But the Terps won a somewhat stunning 28 games anyway, behind tons of contributions from players who figure to hang around well into the future. A Sweet 16 banner would've been great, and so would've been a shot at dynamite Kentucky later this week. But don't lose sight of all the progress this season brought. Maryland basketball, after years adrift, is finally back on the map.