NCAA Tournament: Terps Advance to Next Round in Nail-Biter


Mar 20, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; Maryland Terrapins forward Jonathan Graham (25) hugs guard Varun Ram (21, left) after the game against the Valparaiso Crusaders in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Nationwide Arena. Maryland won 65-62. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The Maryland Terrapins have a flair for the dramatic as their game against the Valparaiso Crusaders went down to wire. This game had a lot of good things and some bad. The Good: three-point shooting, attacking the basket on both ends, defense and more defense. The bad was the amount of foul trouble for both teams. And watching the game, anyone would’ve thought that would be the deciding factor as to who would win the game. They would’ve been right. For the Terps, both Jake Layman and Damonte Dodd fouled out late in the game, while Valparaiso’s E. Victor Nickerson fouled out as well. The Terps advance to play the West Virginia Mountaineers Sunday at 8:40 pm. That game can be seen on TNT.

The Terps started the game with another 5-0 run that ended with them leading at 9-2.  That was the start the Terps needed. In the past, slow starts have forced them to come from behind, and in some cases during the season, they weren’t able to overcome it. Maryland was able to control the tempo of the game early, and it started with bench points. With 3:29 to go in the first half, the Terps had a five-point lead, 26-21. The lead came off of an 11-2 run and the strength of their bench. At that point, they outscored Valparaiso 11-2 on bench points and 25-10 at game’s end.

Jared Nickens was a mainstay behind the three-point line as he always been for the Terps. He had 14 points in this game and shot at 57 percent from deep on 4-of-7 shooting. As a team, the Terps shot 9-for-21 for behind the arc, while Valparaiso shot 12-for-27. It’s safe to say that shot was a staple of both offenses.

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The Terps had the slight edge at halftime, 31-27. Melo Trimble was on the way to getting the double-double he earned. At the half, he had five points and six rebounds; Dezmine Wells had seven points and an assist; Jared Nickens had 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the three-point line and two rebounds.

Dez Wells got the ball rolling in the second half for the Terps when he drove to the basket for a layup. The big man for the Terps, Damonte Dodd, made a huge play:

Dodd was assessed a technical foul after that play for taunting, but can you blame him?

The game went back and forth throughout the second half. Neither team could really get ahead and hide from the other. Under the five-minute mark is money time, and with with both teams competing fiercely, the lead was up for grabs.

The Terps jumped out to a six-point 56-50 lead with 4:52 to a go. A minute prior, Victor Nickerson had just fouled, which spelled trouble for the Crusaders. They came roaring back, however, and could have taken the lead, but free throws helped the Terps close this one out.

The play of the game was made by Varun Ram, he came away with the steal that sealed the victory for the Terps. He was only in the game for 13 seconds. That just goes to show that any one player can still make a big-play difference. Ram did just that. The Terps advance due to a team effort, but Ram’s one play was a huge part.

Next: NCAA Tournament: Terps Should Have a Chip on Their Shoulder