Carroll County Times

Men's Basketball: Terps bounce back, top Irish

COLLEGE PARK - Mark Turgeon may have exerted himself more Wednesday than at any other point this season, but the timing seemed right.

His Terrapins were halfway through one of those have-to-have-it games, down by nine against Notre Dame, and the third-year coach channeled a little Gary Williams in an effort to inspire his players.

Perhaps Turgeon's transformation helped - the Terps rallied to beat the Fighting Irish 74-66, snapping a two-game losing streak and climbing above .500 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Comcast Center fans, an announced crowd of 13,878, went from sitting on their hands to standing on their feet at Turgeon's request. And the Terrapins (11-7, 3-2 ACC) responded by outscoring Notre Dame 49-32 in the second half.

The Terps were behind 34-25 at the break, having missed 13 of 16 3-point attempts, and Turgeon said he didn't quite know what to say to his players.

"I walked in there and said, 'I don't know what I've done to you guys, but we're not playing the way we're capable of playing. So we'll make a pact: we're just going to have fun,'" he said. "'We're going to smile, we're going to have fun. If you miss a shot, you can smile. It's OK to miss a shot ... If you do that and we have fun, and we play the way we're capable, we can win this game.'

"The kind of year it's been, it just hasn't gone the way we've wanted. And there was a lot of pressure - we had to win this game, and I think our guys felt it."

Maryland took control with about 14 minutes remaining, with forward Charles Mitchell grabbing rebounds (six of his seven were offensive) and converting layups.

When he did both at the 13:39 mark, cutting Notre Dame's lead to 34-31, Turgeon leapt and waved his arms toward the student section, imploring the kids to get on their feet.

Seth Allen's 3-pointer with 12:09 to play, which followed a technical foul called on ND coach Mike Brey, put Maryland ahead 39-36. Turgeon responded with a double fist pump while crouched near the Terps' bench.

"I thought the crowd in the second half was tremendous," Turgeon said. "I thought my guys were tremendous."

Maryland stretched its lead to 66-55 with 2:21 remaining, thanks to a pair of Dez Wells free throws, but Notre Dame (10-7, 1-3) trimmed the deficit to 66-61 less than a minute later.

Irish guard Austin Burgett converted a four-point play, and following a Terps turnover guard Demetrius Jackson scored on a putback with 1:46 to go.

Maryland resumed control on the next possession, however, thanks to Nick Faust's 3 from the right corner 30 seconds later, a shot that sent one more surge into Turgeon and the Terrapins faithful.

Wells, who finished with a team-high 17 points and went 11 for 13 at the free-throw line, said the Terps fed off Turgeon's energy in the second half.

A tighter defense helped, too, as did Maryland's 17-for-20 performance at the foul line after going 0 for 3 in the first half.

Allen had 14 points and Faust added 10, and Jake Layman led the team with 10 rebounds.

Wells struggled shooting the ball (3 for 10) and took some of the blame for the Terps' early woes.

"I have to take control of this team," Wells said. "That's a point of emphasis with me and Coach Turgeon. I told one him one day, I said, 'Coach, you can't be the bad guy all the time.' I've got to come up and get on guys, make sure guys are in the right place at the right time. Just keep playing and keep being the best player I can be in each game."

Pat Connaughton led Notre Dame with 19 points, but netted only four in the second half. Garrick Sherman added 18 points and Erik Atkins scored 11, but the Irish failed to match's Maryland pace after a successful first half.

The Fighting Irish came to College Park for the first time since Dec. 31, 1986, and left town even in their all-time series with the Terps. Meanwhile, Maryland avoided a third consecutive loss after lopsided defeats at Pitt and Florida State, somewhat spurred by an animated Turgeon.

"I don't like making a fool out of myself, but I felt like I had to tonight to get everybody involved," he said. "We had to work hard to get the lead, and I wanted our guys to play with energy, so that's why I acted that way."

NOTE: North Carroll graduate Amber Melville, a junior at Maryland, was honored at halftime for her winning ACC high jump championships in both indoor and outdoor track last year. Melville is one of only four women in Terps history to have cleared 6 feet in either season.