It remains to be seen if Saturday’s contest will go down as the final meeting in College Park for the often one-sided but always intense rivalry between Maryland and Duke. But if it was, the Terrapins treated their home crowd to quite the finale.
As No. 2 Duke’s desperation effort missed the mark, Maryland’s students stormed the court. Forget the Terps’ 12 losses in their past 13 meetings with the Blue Devils — including six straight setbacks. What may be the last laugh at Comcast Center belonged to the Maryland faithful.
“We never quit,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “We never had a doubt we were going to win the game.”
On a night the Terps pulled out an 83-81 win despite a season-high 26 turnovers, it only seemed fitting that guard Seth Allen — who contributed eight of them — hit the winning free throws with two seconds remaining.
Taking the ball up the court, the freshman was supposed to find sharp-shooting senior Logan Aronhalt on the perimeter or 7-foot-1 center Alex Len in the post.
Instead, Allen improvised. When the lane opened, he atoned for his earlier giveaways by attacking the basket and drawing a foul on Quinn Cook.
“That’s a big test of your maturity, just doing the next play,” said Allen, who finished with 16 points. “I just tried to have amnesia and keep playing.”
Although he didn’t get the final shot as planned, Len did lead the Terps (18-7, 6-6 ACC) with 19 points while hitting 6 of 8 from the field. Three weeks after Mason Plumlee outscored the sophomore 19-8 in an 84-64 triumph for Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Len helped limit his fellow NBA lottery prospect to four points.
And Len’s nine rebounds also paced a dominating performance on the glass for the Terps, whose 40 boards doubled up on the Blue Devils.
“I watched a lot of film this past week,” Len said. “I didn’t play well at their place, so it was a huge challenge for me.”
In the first half, Duke (22-3, 9-3) rode the hot shooting of guard Seth Curry (25 points), who numbed Maryland’s electric atmosphere with a 6-for-6 start. When a Plumlee alley-oop capped an 11-2 run, Duke found itself in front 25-20.
But Nick Faust’s 3-pointer in transition gave Maryland a 35-34 halftime lead, and the margin grew to 53-43 early in the second.
Maryland’s sloppiness with the ball, however, saw that advantage quickly get cut down as three turnovers in less than a minute set up an eight-point spurt for Duke.
“We had 26 turnovers and we beat them,” Allen said. “Imagine if we slimmed down the turnovers, how much of a different game it would have been.”
While Dez Wells’ free throws gave Maryland a double-digit cushion with 3:39 left, Curry made back-to-back 3-pointers to get Duke within striking distance at 80-78 in the final minute.