The Maryland Terrapins overcame an anemic first half of basketball to come back and beat Notre Dame by a final score of 74-66, nabbing an important ACC victory and restoring some much needed balance to their wobbly season.
"Crossroads" was the phrase bandied about by the announcer's in the pre-game show, as both teams entered the game in the middle of the crowded ACC pack.
The Terrapins (11-7, 3-2 ACC) were especially desperate for a victory; they entered this game coming off of two straight blowout losses—to Pittsburgh and Florida State—in ACC conference play. Notre Dame (10-7, 1-3 ACC) have been fighting for respectability all season, but the Terrapins arguably had more to lose.
Maryland looked like a team impervious to pressure, but in the worst possible way, as they came out completely flat in the first half and allowed Notre Dame to dictate the pace of the game.
After getting a couple of early three-pointers to fall, the Terrapins missed 10 shots in a row from beyond the arc. The long boards allowed the Fighting Irish to get the ball in transition, and there was little in the way of a coherent defense in that phase of the game, as Pat Connaughton scored 15 first half points and the Fighting Irish led 34-25 after the first half of play.
Notre Dame looked readyy to play spoiler to another storied ACC foe, as they had already scored a huge victory against UNC earlier this season. Maryland had little sense of direction in the first half, and it showed on the basketball court.
Something certainly changed at halftime, and depending on how Maryland finishes the season, you may be able to pinpoint the Maryland locker room at halftime as the point where the path to a better season finally crossed the treacherous road they looked set to follow.
Dez Wells, who was shut out in the first half, had an explosive final 20 minutes, scoring 17 points and leading the team with his energy and physicality. Nick Faust hit some key shots and Charles Mitchell, who finished the game with 10 points, had some crucial put-backs that allowed Maryland to keep momentum as they took the lead and never looked back.
The Terrapins went up by as much as 10 points in the second half, and eventually walked away with an important 74-66 victory.
Check out the live blog below for the highlights, updates, and analysis from this pivotal ACC matchup.