Maryland's March is over.
The Terps fell to Kansas, the NCAA Tournament's top overall seed, by a 79-63 score in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night. The Jayhawks will face Villanova in the Elite Eight, and Maryland will go home – left to cope with what might've been after challenging Kansas but falling short in the second half.
Maryland played a strong first half, but the Terps fell all the way apart against the country's best team as the game rolled toward its conclusion. What had looked like a tight contest turned into a cruise for Kansas, and Maryland was done. Kansas outscored Maryland in the second-half by a 43-29 margin.
In their final college games, Jake Layman and Rasheed Sulaimon played their hearts out, but they couldn't bring Maryland back. In what might be their final games, too, Melo Trimble, Diamond Stone and Robert Carter Jr. dealt with varying degrees of foul trouble and could never kick fully into gear. These were Maryland's full statistics:
In some part, Maryland was undone by a problem that plagued it all season. The Terps struggled for months to box out on defense, and Kansas out-rebounded them on offense, 13-6.
Forward Perry Ellis delivered a master class for Kansas, scoring 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Guard Wayne Selden and forward Landen Lucas added 19 and 14, respectively.
The Terps played sharp defense from at outset. Kansas was 4-of-its-first-18 from the field, and the Jayhawks were completely shut out on three-point looks for the first 19 minutes of the game. Trimble was bouncing early but hit a bit of a dry spell late, while Sulaimon had reached double figures by the end of the first half.
Maryland played a strong first half, and it probably would've been stronger if not for some tough officiating breaks. The Terps played most of the final stretch of the half without an effective Stone, after he was whistled on a brutal foul call for cleanly blocking a Devonte' Graham drive – after Graham appeared to throw an elbow into Trimble's head. Carter was also in foul hot water, and Maryland went to the break trailing, 36-34.
Maryland met its first real trouble at the start of the second half. When the score was tied at 43-all, the Jayhawks mounted a quick 7-0 run to go up 50-43, a spurt that set the tone for the remainder of the game. The Terps led for much of the first half, but in the second, they were suddenly fighting an uphill battle they wouldn't win.
The Terps could never recover. Ellis continued to torch them, and Stone picked up a fourth foul with seven minutes still to play. Kansas is good anyway, but Kansas is really good when it's playing from ahead and its opponent stops making shots and has foul trouble. What looked like an exciting Maryland bid at the Elite Eight went up hard in smoke.
Thanks for reading along with us all season. We'll have much more to come.