There might come a time in the near future when Maryland fans won’t feel compelled to storm the court after a home win over the 14th-ranked team in the country.
There was no holding them back on Wednesday night, however, because this celebration was long overdue.
Alex Len dropped in a missed shot by teammate Pe’Shon Howard with 00.9 seconds left, giving the Terrapins a stunning 51-50 victory over No. 14 North Carolina State.
Howard drove the left side and came up short on a 5-footer, but the 7-foot-1 Len grabbed the ball in front of the rim and eased it through the hoop. After the Wolfpack failed on a desperation heave at the other end, thousands of students in the sellout crowd poured onto the court after the final buzzer to mark Maryland’s first win over a ranked team since March 3, 2010, against No. 4 Duke.
Now in his second season at Maryland, coach Mark Turgeon is still trying to take the program to the level it enjoyed under its predecessor, Gary Williams. This win, despite being rather ugly, was a significant step in the rebuilding process.
“I didn’t come here to be mediocre,” Turgeon said. “I came here to do great things. We haven’t done many great things since I’ve been here. This is a great thing.”
It was lucky, too.
As Howard threw up his shot from the left side, it quickly became apparent it was going to be short.
Maryland (14-3, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) has won 10 of 11 against the Wolfpack (14-3, 3-1), including five straight at home. The Terrapins had previously lost 17 straight against ranked teams.
“We hadn’t won a big game since Greivis [Vasquez] was here,” Turgeon said.
Lorenzo Brown scored 17 points for N.C. State and C.J. Leslie had 13. The Wolfpack came in leading the NCAA with a 52.8 shooting percentage, but in this one they shot a miserable 31.1 percent.
“We were offensively pretty bad,” coach Mark Gottfried said. “We bobbled balls, we had shots around the rim we couldn’t make and it wasn’t one guy. That was one of those nights. You’re going to have those and we haven’t had a lot of them this year.
Coming off a stunning upset of then-No. 1 Duke, the Wolfpack trailed by 10 points with 9:34 left. Brown hit a jumper with 1:41 remaining to put North Carolina State up 50-49, and neither team scored again until Len’s game-winner.