ACC Tournament: Maryland ousts Wake Forest
GREENSBORO — Eight and a half minutes felt like six years to Wake Forest Thursday night.
Both streaks were on the mind of Wake in its 75-62 loss to Maryland in the first round of the ACC Tournament. Wake couldn’t reach Friday once again as it went 8:36 without a field goal in the second half. Maryland subsequently pulled away as Wake’s conference tournament losing streak extended to six games, and therefore, six years.
Maryland’s Dez Wells rode a tremendous second half to a game-high 21 points as the Terrapins outscored Wake 45-27 in the final 20 minutes to overcome a 35-30 halftime deficit. The Demon Deacons’ last tournament win came six years ago and the Deacs (13-18) could have snapped it if not for going so long without a field goal in the second half.
Wake lost to Maryland twice during the regular season by a combined 36 points. The Terps took over in the final 10 minutes for the third victory against Wake. Wake’s last ACC Tournament win came in 2007 against Georgia Tech.
“The second half, we turned the ball over nine times and they were bad turnovers,” Wake coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “What we did in the first half to gain a lead we didn’t do in the second half.”
Seventh-seeded Maryland took control of a 54-all game to advance to today’s 7 p.m. quarterfinal against No. 2 seed Duke. Maryland (21-11) will likely need at least one more win to receive serious consideration for the NCAA Tournament. The Terps beat Duke in their most recent meeting in College Park.
“I think we were pretty good and they saw a lot of shots rim in and out,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “I got on our guys at halftime about energy and they started the second half and got the offense going.”
Wake guard C.J. Harris scored 19 points as the heralded senior finished his career without an tournament win. Harris struggled from the field on a 5-of-15 shooting night. Pe’Shon Howard guarded Harris for the majority of the game.
“Pe’Shon did a great job on him,” said Wells. “We dug down and took his lanes away from him and just tried to make him make passes to the teammates that didn’t beat us.”
Harris hit three 3-pointers in the first half and helped Wake gain a five-point halftime edge. Freshman Devin Thomas scored 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting. Thomas’ first ACC Tournament game also had two steals and a block. The Deacs also suffered a 12-for-21 performance at the FT line.
7-foot-1 center Alex Len (11 points), Seth Allen (11 points), Howard (10 points) and Faust (10 points) all had double-figure games for the Terps. Wells got 14 of his 21 points in the second half and had his second 20-point game against the Deacs this year. Maryland outrebounded Wake 35-31 and shot 47.9 percent for the game.
The Deacs lead by as many as seven early as Devin Thomas scooped in a bucket to make it 29-22. Maryland’s Seth Allen answerd with a trey and Nick Faust sunk two free throws to cut the margin back to one. Travis McKie and Chase Fischer hit baskets late for the halftime margin.
Maryland opened the second half on a 9-2 spurt that included a dunk, 3-pointer and two free throws from Wells to tie it at 39.
Harris hit a pair of free throws to tie the game at 54 with 8:06 remaining. Len dunked a minute later to give Maryland the lead for keeps. Howard drained a trey and followed up with a putback. The Terps led 64-57 at the under-4 minute media timeout. Len and Allen hit shots to bring the lead to 10 with under three minutes to play.
“We played well for a good portion of today,” said Bzdelik, at the end of his third year in Winston-Salem. “The game got away from us there in the final nine minutes.”