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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

No. 8 Maryland edges No. 9 West Virginia in first-round thriller

No. 8 Maryland edges No. 9 West Virginia in first-round thriller


Julian Reese led No. 8 seed Maryland with 17 points and nine rebounds in a 67-65 win over No. 9 West Virginia to tip off South Region action in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday afternoon in Birmingham, Ala.

Hakim Hart had 15 points with four assists and scored the go-ahead basket as the Terrapins (22-12) ended the game on an 11-6 run. They advanced to the second round to face No. 1 Alabama, who later defeated No. 16 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

Erik Stevenson put West Virginia (19-15) ahead 59-56 with a 3-pointer with 5:45 left, but Donta Scott answered with his own 72 seconds later.

West Virginia went for a steal and the ball was batted in the air volleyball-style six times before Reese recovered and fed Hart for a wide-open layup to move Maryland ahead 61-59 with 3:41 to go.

Reese added a fast-break dunk before West Virginia pulled within 66-65 on free throws and Tre Mitchell’s layup. Jahmir Young went to the line with 4.7 seconds left and went 1-for-2, and Kedrian Johnson’s running 3-pointer at the buzzer didn’t go.

The Mountaineers lost despite Johnson’s career-high 27 points. Mitchell added 13 points and six rebounds.

Scott had 11 points and eight rebounds and Young scored 10 points for Maryland, which reached the Round of 32 for the third time in the past four tournaments (2019, 2021).

“This group, they have come together, they have asked to do everything that I’ve asked them to do,” first-year Maryland coach Kevin Willard said. “They have had an unbelievable work ethic. You know, we have been down all year at certain points in the game. They have never turned on each other. They just have a great attitude.”

After scoring on each of their first two possessions, the Terrapins went ice cold, as West Virginia forced six turnovers over the first seven minutes of the game.

The Mountaineers went ahead 16-4 on Joe Toussaint’s 3-pointer before Young made two free throws to end a scoring drought of 7:39. After Toussaint drilled another trey for a 19-6 lead, Reese ended the 8:28-long field-goal drought. His jumper launched a 16-2 run, and Young knocked down a 3-pointer to give Maryland a 22-21 lead with 6:09 left in the half.

The first half wound up seeing six ties and five lead changes. Patrick Emilien’s turnaround jumper with 34 seconds left made the difference in Maryland’s 32-30 halftime edge.

Johnson pulled off a personal 10-0 run by making three straight baskets and foul shots — the latter a four-point play. Seth Wilson drained a 3-pointer and Johnson made another to cap a 16-0 Mountaineers surge that gave them a 47-38 lead with 15:05 to play.

The Terrapins stormed back from a 51-43 deficit with nine straight points, fueled by Reese’s consecutive tough layups.

–Field Level Media

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