The Washington Times - February 22, 2012, 01:08AM

Mark Turgeon didn’t make it to the end of Maryland’s first game against Miami.

He certainly was glad he stuck around for the entirety of the return game in College Park.


The Terrapins rallied from a five-point deficit in the closing minutes Tuesday, finishing off Miami 75-70 to rebound from an ugly loss just three days later at Virginia.

“It doesn’t count as three wins, but man, it sure feels like it tonight,” Turgeon said.

The cathartic nature of the evening was obvious as the Terps (16-11, 6-7 ACC) kept churning, kept coming at the Hurricanes (16-10, 7-6). Back they came, time and again, looking nothing like the team that lamely limped out of Charlottesville a few days earlier.

An eight-point Miami lead in the first half? It was mostly wiped away less than three minutes later. A seven-point Hurricanes edge with less than 10 minutes to go? A stout defense allowed the Terps to erode the deficit.

So when Miami took a 66-61 edge into the final two minutes, it was hardly insurmountable.

Sean Mosley provided the crucial moment, a step-back 3-pointer borne out of necessity. A Maryland timeout led to a play drawn up for Terrell Stoglin. He was guarded leaving Mosley to dribble on the perimeter with no options in sight.

The shot clock wound, and still nothing obvious developed. An agitated Mosley slid closer to the top of the key, eventually pulling away to shake off Miami’s Kenny Kadji.

“I thought it was short when he shot it but it went in,” Turgeon said.

Indeed it did, starting a 14-2 run to bruise the Hurricanes’ postseason hopes and inject life into Maryland’s stretch run.

Miami, stunned at suddenly facing a threat, gave up a basket and free throw to James Padgett on the next possession, then a pair of free throws  and then another and another. In the interim, the Hurricanes collapsed on offense, committing a pair of turnovers when they could least afford them.

“We had the game down at Miami and it slipped away so we had to get the win at home tonight,” Mosley said. “It was huge for us.”

Ah, that’s right. The first game, played less than three weeks earlier, was a near miss for Maryland. Turgeon was tossed with less than eight minutes to play, only to have his team erase a double-digit deficit and force double overtime before falling 90-86.

That was a different brand of disappointment than Saturday yielded, a 71-44 defeat that hinted at a potentially rudderless finish. A spirited practice Monday hinted at something else, the possibility the Terps would prove as feisty as they had all year.  

So they defended. They valued possession. They shared the ball.

And with a closing flourish, they collected an unexpected victory.

“A real burden was lifted because we had an embarrassing loss at Virginia,” Stoglin said.

It’s been a long, long while since Maryland snagged a victory when it felt like circumstances were truly dire. At no point a year ago did the Terps pull off a shocker. The year before, there were thrilling victories en route to an ACC regular season title but hardly a total stunner.

On paper, this wasn’t a shock. It was certainly plausible based on the previous meetings.

Yet in the context of the season, it stands out.

“It’s the best win of the year if you ask me,” Turgeon said.

It might have felt like three. But just getting one was plenty good enough on this night for Maryland.

—- Patrick Stevens