GREENSBORO, N.C. - Of course it came down to one possession, with the outcome in doubt and Maryland's 61-year tenure in the Atlantic Coast Conference clinging to life.
That's the way things have gone this year for the Terrapins, a year of more disappointment than success. And Thursday's ACC tournament opener against Florida State was no different - the Terps fought back from a double-digit deficit to tie the game late, only to lose on a last-second slam dunk.
Boris Bojanovsky's flush with 0.4 seconds to play gave the Seminoles a 67-65 win over Maryland at Greensboro Coliseum, ending the Terps' status as a charter member of the ACC in gut-wrenching fashion.
They came to Greensboro with hopes of making a deep tournament run, perhaps winning their first ACC crown in 10 years and ending a three-year NCAA tourney drought before leaving for the Big Ten next year. That all went away in a flash, when Bojanovsky corralled a pass in the post from Okaro White, glided along the baseline and dunked the ball with all of his 7 feet, 3 inches.
Dez Wells' near full-court desperation shot came up short, and when the horn sounded he slapped the floor with both hands, let out a shriek and left the court before his teammates and coaches could even stand up for the post-game handshake line.
"I'm never out of any fight," said Wells, who had 13 of his 18 points in the second half. "Even when we took that last heave with point-four seconds, I still thought we were going to win the game. So when it didn't go in, I felt my heart drop.
"But that's the nature of basketball. You can fight as hard as you want to, and sometimes you learn lessons the hard way like we did today."
Maryland erased an 11-point lead in less than 10 minutes and tied the game at 63 on a Jake Layman dunk with 1:47 to go. The Terps forced a Florida State turnover after that and Wells drove the lane at the other end but just missed off the rim, giving the Seminoles (19-12) another chance to take the lead.
Bojanovsky drew a foul and made two free throws with 36 seconds to play, then Wells did the same for the Terrapins with 15.1 ticks left.
But Maryland (17-15) failed to stop Florida State when it mattered most.
Even with a defensive effort on the final possession - Layman got his hand inside White's on the funky bounce pass to Bojanovsky, who got free off a screen on the left block.
"This one was hard because I think we did everything right defensively, and it kind of bounced their way," Terps coach Mark Turgeon said. "You know, point-four? Why couldn't it have taken an extra second and be late?"
Maryland played without junior forward Evan Smotrycz, who experienced back spasms during Sunday's home game against Virginia and took a few days to rest only to have them flare up Thursday. Turgeon said the team assumed Smotrycz (11 points, six rebounds per game) was ready to go less than an hour before game time.
"My trainer told me he wasn't playing, or didn't want to play," Turgeon said.
The Terrapins lost forward Charles Mitchell midway through the second half to a nasty dislocated pinky finger, but the sophomore came back for the final minutes with his left hand wrapped.
Maryland led 43-42 with 14:31 remaining when Florida State built a 14-2 run and jumped ahead 56-45 on Ian Miller's long-distance 3-pointer at the 9:34 mark.
With Miller leading the offense, the Seminoles seemed to be pulling away. But Turgeon switched to a pressure defense down the stretch, and it worked.
Despite being out-rebounded 39-26 and missing seven of eight 3-pointers in the second half, Maryland forced turnovers and had its chances late.
The Terps missed five 3s on back-to-back possessions, however, which helped the Seminoles hold their slim lead. Miller sank a 15-foot jumper and layup on two trips before the Terps' final surge with 3:27 to go.
Wells and sophomore guard Seth Allen both scored 18 for Maryland and Layman led with six rebounds. Miller finished with a team-high 17 points and Bojanovsky grabbed 12 rebounds for the 'Noles.
"Give them credit, just another disappointing loss," Turgeon said. "But I'm not disappointed in the effort and how hard our guys tried today because they really competed. Some things just aren't meant to be, and apparently today wasn't."
Maryland has a handful of similar setbacks on this year's resume, from a 69-67 loss at Duke to a 57-55 home defeat against Syracuse. The Terps appeared to gain a little momentum with Sunday's overtime win over Virginia, the last regular-season ACC game in College Park.
Instead, their final ACC tourney ended a little earlier than they anticipated.
"It came down to that last play," Mitchell said, "and we just didn't get it done."