LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Towels were perched on several players' heads. Redness and tears were visible in many of their eyes. Just about every player not talking to media members was slouched over listlessly in the locker room.
This was the scene after Maryland's 79-63 loss to Kansas on Thursday night, minutes after the Terps left the floor at the KFC Yum! Center, their season over.
After playing a strong first half - trailing Kansas 36-34 by the end of it - the Terps unraveled in multiple respects in the second half to be dropped out of the tournament. Maryland's shots stopped falling, and Kansas' wouldn't stop falling, and Maryland tried dearly to hold on.
"We just wanted to keep fighting regardless. (Kansas) kept building the lead and we were just telling our guys that we believed in them," senior guard Varun Ram, one of the team's leaders at the end of its bench, said. "We just wanted to be encouraging even though things were going wrong."
Regarding the Jayhawks' second-half resurgence, the answers were simple: They simply outplayed Maryland.
"I think they got to the foul line a lot more than we did," Dodd said, "we just didn't execute... it was just tough on us altogether."
Another member of Maryland's bench, Andrew Terrell, fighting back tears, said that he will miss the seniors that will depart the team, saying that they meant to him and younger teammates a lot.
"We're going to be missing Jake, who honestly taught me how to live," Terrell said. "Everybody sees the (team) on the court. Nobody sees us (off the court). The guys, they taught us how to live." Regarding Melo Trimble and Diamond Stone possibly declaring for NBA Draft, Terrell added, "If they do decide to, that's their decision. We love them just the same."
Layman said it feels surreal to think about his Terps career ending. He remarked that he will remember fondly how the team fought all year, on an emotional night.
"There's multiple times that we were down in the game and we won," Layman said, "just as a group that fought and overcame that boundary into Sweet 16" Layman said. "Maryland basketball's back."
Layman added that he sees a stark contrast to the program from when he entered as a freshman to the end of his collegiate career tonight.
"When I got here, Maryland basketball wasn't respected," he said. "Over these last four years, it has been a little up-and-down, but I'm so proud of how this program has gotten to."
Maryland didn't quite reach its own expectations, and that isn't lost on the team.
"Individually, we have immense talent," Sulaimon said, "It's so hard to bring that much talent to flow, bring them together and be one ... This team has no limit of how good we could have been... Even if we went all the way, we have a chance to get better."
In the end, this wasn't Maryland's night. Now, the Terps have to move forward.
"Sometimes a basketball bounces that way; life happens like that," Sulaimon added, "but tomorrow, the sun is still going to shine and we are still going to be proud of what we did and what we accomplished this year."