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Terps hold off late rally for win over Stony Brook

Maryland TerrapinsAlex LenMark TurgeonComcast Center (arena)

Stony Brook's evening began when the Seawolves were mistakenly introduced by the public address announcer at Comcast Center as the "Seahawks."

The reception was just as rude for the New York school when the game started and host Maryland converted its first five field-goal attempts, and 15 of its first 20.

But the visitors were undeterred. The Terps had wanted a test and they got one, as Stony Brook cut a 20-point deficit to two in the final minute before Maryland prevailed, 76-69, before an announced 10,721.

"I think we needed a close game to see how we handle it," Terps coach Mark Turgeon said. "We're going to have a lot of close games."

It was Maryland's 10th straight victory since its opening-game loss to Kentucky – its longest streak since 2001-02. The Terps (10-1) were led by Alex Len and Dez Wells, who each scored 19 points.

"Sitting around last summer, if you had told me we were going to be 10-1 at Christmas break I wouldn't have believed you," Turgeon said.

The win followed an 8-day layoff for final exams.

Turgeon had hoped the team would emerge hungry and ready for the challenge of a Seawolves team off to its best start since joining Division I in 1999.

Stony Brook (8-3) -- like Maryland, a strong rebounding team -- was led by Jameel Warney (17 points) and Tommy Brenton (River Hill), who had nine points, eight rebounds and nine assists.

Brenton and the Seawolves tested Maryland in the second half.

The Terps led, 56-36, when Stony Brook went on an 11-0 run. The Seawolves cut the margin to 56-45 on a lay-in by Warney, and to 56-47 on two free throws by Ron Bracey.

"We were scrappy. We were tough," said Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell, whose team struggled to match up with the 7-foot-1 Len. "They've got good players and we don't have 7-1, for sure."

Maryland freshman Seth Allen (nine points) hit a 3-pointer to end the run. But Stony Brook wouldn't go away.

"The second half, they came out and turned up their aggression, and we didn't really meet it," said Maryland guard Pe'Shon Howard (eight points, seven assists). "They wanted to come out and show they could rebound with us."

Maryland led, 69-66, when Len missed two free throws with 54.1 seconds left. Wells tipped the rebound on the second miss and Len grabbed the ball and scored.

Len seemed to slam the ball through the hoop with extra force -- perhaps owing to the frustration of the moment.

"I was so angry at myself for missing the free throws. Good thing he tipped it back and I got the dunk," Len said.

More than an hour after the game, Len emerged from the locker room wearing sweatpants and a sweatsuit and began shooting practice free throws in the nearly empty arena.

A 3-pointer by Anthony Jackson with 34 seconds left reduced Maryland's advantage to 71-69.

Maryland then had to win the game at the foul line.

Maryland opened the game with one of its best halves of the season, shooting 64.3 percent and taking a 45-32 lead. The Terps didn't miss until Howard's errant 3-point attempt with 15:42 left. Maryland led, 12-8, at the time, but soon padded the margin behind Len (5-for-7 in the half) and Wells (5-for-6).

It was their best period since the second half of the Northwestern victory last month, in which the Terps shot 66.7 percent.

"For us up to be up 20 against that team shows you that we did a lot of things right to get there," Turgeon said. "And then I thought the game got physical. We didn't handle it very well."

Maryland had won its previous three games by an average of 26.7 points.

"It's always good to be challenged," Wells said. "We haven't been challenged as we would have liked to be challenged in the last couple games."

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

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Maryland TerrapinsAlex LenMark TurgeonComcast Center (arena)
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