COLLEGE PARK — Diamond Stone was a big man on the Maryland campus long before he arrived last summer, the most celebrated recruit to choose the Terps in more than 40 years.
In his first Big Ten game, the 6-foot-11 center's profile grew even bigger as he secured a place in the school's record books with a performance for the ages in Maryland's come-from-behind 70-64 victory over Penn State on Wednesday at Xfinity Center.
Carrying the fourth-ranked Terps back from what seemed like a futile 13-point deficit with a little over 6½ minutes remaining, Stone scored a freshman school-record 39 points, with 32 of them coming in the second half.
In doing so, Stone broke Joe Smith's record of 33 points set against Rider in 1993. Stone made 10 of 15 shots from the field and 19 of 25 from the free throw line, breaking Tom McMillen's program record of made free throws (17) and Keith Booth's record of free-throw attempts (24).
Only a missed free throw in the final minute prevented Stone from tying Smith's career high and becoming just the seventh Maryland player to score 40 points in a game. It is also believed to be the most points scored by a Terps player in a half. Ernie Graham, whose school record of 44 points in 1978 still stands, scored 30 in the second half against North Carolina State.
"I think Diamond likes the bright lights, he likes the stage, he likes to be challenged and we were extremely challenged today," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "He was terrific."
Stone said he was not aware of the records he broke and some of the school's legendary players he moved one notch down in the record books.
"I really don't pay too much mind to it," he said with a smile. "It was just a regular game to me, a Big Ten game and we're trying to win the Big Ten. We've got to get ready for Northwestern Saturday."
It would have been a lot of moot points by Stone had the Terps lost, which for much of the game seemed likely.
Maryland (12-1, 1-0 Big Ten) finished the first half with its largest halftime deficit of the season (31-23) after its worst shooting half of the season (6-for-24). What would have been an embarrassing defeat to a 15-point underdog looked almost guaranteed when Penn State (9-5, 0-1) took a 58-45 lead with 6:34 remaining.
That's when Stone took over at both ends of floors.
Stone, who started the second half after coming off the bench for the sixth straight game, scored 16 of his team's final 25 points. He set up his own three-point play to cut the deficit to 58-52 with a steal that Turgeon would later call "the play of the game," adding,"it kind of got us going. It cut it to six, and we all started to believe at that point."
Stone also finished with a career-high 12 rebounds to go with two blocks. One of the blocks also led to a dunk at the other end off a missed jumper by an ice-cold Melo Trimble, who finished with 10 points on 3-for-15 shooting.
"He had 39 points and 12 rebounds, but when I watch the tape, I probably will be most pleased with his defense," Turgeon said. "There was times in the first half when he was playing well, but he was hurting us defensively. The second half I didn't feel that way."
Asked what the comeback meant to him, Stone said, "It says we never give up no matter how much we're down by. We were down by I think 10 in the second half. Guys [were] putting had their head down – Rob [Carter], Rasheed [Sulaimon], Jake [Layman] – Coach Turgeon just said, 'Keep our heads up,' and we started making runs."
The final run was started by Stone, but included big shots from both Trimble and Carter. Trimble, who had one of his worst shooting games as a Terp, followed Stone's steal and three-point play with the first of two straight 3-point shots.
Carter, who hit his first 3-pointer with a little more than a minute gone in the game, made a huge 3-point shot with 31 seconds to go after Penn State forward Brandon Taylor (15 points, 10 rebounds) had cut Maryland's lead to 66-64 on a tough up-and-under drive.
Briefly thinking about driving down what appeared to be an open lane, Carter pulled up from straightaway, right behind the circle.
"I saw the lane, the lane was open, but I put a lot of time into that jump shot and in that situation you can't really think about too many other things than rising up and doing everything you do every day and try to shoot the perfect one," said Carter, who finished with 11 points and nine rebounds. "I made it and I thank God I made it."
Carter seemed more impressed with Stone's performance than Stone was himself. Like many of the veteran players on the team, Carter has spent the past two months trying to keep the freshman confident.
"He thinks he's supposed to be great every game," Carter said. "Just talking to him in practice and telling him to work hard, his time is going to come, and tonight was his time."
As Stone and Sulaimon walked by the press table more than an hour after the game – on a night when the Duke transfer didn't hit a shot – Sulaimon turned to reporters and smiled.
"Y'all need to write a big story about this freshman here," Sulaimon said. "He saved our butts."
And, in the process, knocked a few Maryland legends down a notch in the record books.