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With frenetic finish, Maryland basketball staves off Georgetown

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Rasheed Sulaimon came full circle in the clutch, and Maryland's best players looked the part in a rocking building.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Rasheed Sulaimon has been here before.

On Feb. 16, 2013, Sulaimon was a five-star freshman shooting guard for the Duke Blue Devils. In a one-possession game's final seconds, Sulaimon took the ball in the corner and flicked up a game-tying 3-point try. Jake Layman fouled him, and Sulaimon made three of the biggest shots of his career to tie the game in the last minute. (Maryland would win.)

Xfinity Center had probably not been that loud since that night – not until Tuesday, anyway, when No. 3 Maryland charged back late to beat Georgetown in a scintillating rivalry renewal. Sulaimon – wearing white, not blue this time – again found 3 critical late points: His triple with 1:18 left capped Maryland's comeback and put the Terps ahead for good.

The lid practically blew off the building.

"Now I'm on this side, I can officially say it," Sulaimon said afterward. "But they're the best fans in the world. The atmosphere out there was crazy, and we needed every bit of it."

His coach, Mark Turgeon, was more blunt.

"Our fans were absolutely phenomenal," he said. "We have no chance without them tonight."

The building was bumping all evening, thanks to to a cocktail of factors: The Terrapins and Hoyas meeting in College Park for the first time since 1973, the presence of ESPN's Scott Van Pelt and, later, All-American guard Greivis Vasquez, in town with the Milwaukee Bucks and – as much as anything – the quality of the game.

Early on, this was a sprint. In the end, it was a marathon. Maryland fell down 7-0 immediately and then wrestled back to tie the game heading into halftime. The Terps fell behind by the same margin shortly thereafter, and they had to grapple with a stark problem – either get moving or drop to 1-1 in front of a sellout crowd at home, against Georgetown.

"We just believed in each other," Melo Trimble said. "We always talk about toughness. Toughness is what we had down the stretch."

Maryland got going. Down 4 points with a touch more than 4:00 on the clock, Trimble drew a foul and walked to the free-throw line. At this point, he was an uncharacteristic 7 of 12 from that spot on the night. He made a pair, and Maryland forced a stop. Trimble pulled up from just beyond the arc and hit a 3-pointer. Tie game, and bedlam.

The teams traded jabs from that point, leading up until Sulaimon's triple gave Maryland the lead for good.

"We would score a basket, and then they would come down and score a basket to tie the game up," Trimble said. "We just believed in each other."

It helps to have players who can't be held down for long.

"Their first five," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said of Maryland, "they have an elite player at every position, and the guys coming off the bench are pretty good, too. But the two transfers give them an understanding and a hardness."

That's Sulaimon and Robert Carter, who prefaced the major Trimble and Sulaimon baskets with an interior score and a defensive rebound.

After Sulaimon's three, Trimble was done missing foul shots. He went 2 of 2 on back-to-back trips, the game-sealing shots coming after he collected an offensive rebound and took a hard foul along the baseline. Georgetown guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera hit final-ticks 3-pointer to keep the game close, but Trimble again stamped out any final comeback hopes with two more strokes from the line.

A few minutes before that, in the last media timeout, Vasquez walked out of the arena tunnel near its loading dock and hugged Van Pelt on a big video board, and the place started to roar.

A few minutes after that, Sulaimon – already with 7 assists on the night – got an open look. .

"I just took the shot with confidence, just trying to hit a big shot for my team," he said. "And I'm fortunate that it went in."