ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) — Dez Wells split a pair of Providence defenders for a running hook shot with 1:04 left and added a pair of clutch free throws as Maryland held off a furious comeback attempt by the Friars, 56-52, to claim the 2013 Paradise Jam tournament championship Monday night.
Wells was named the tournament’s MVP after a 13-point effort. Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz added another 13 points and pulled down 11 rebounds and was named to the all-tournament team.
The Terrapins held a 19-point lead with 12:30 remaining in the game only to have Providence’s Bryce Cotton spark a comeback by scoring 14 points in a run that cut the lead to two with 1:31 remaining after Cotton drilled a 3-pointer, was fouled and added a free throw to make it 51-49.
Wells drove past a defender at the top of the key, split a pair of Providence defenders at the free throw line and scored with a soft hook that answered the challenge and made it a four-point lead, 53-49, with 1:04 left.
Cotton hit a jumper with :31 remaining to cut the lead to 53-51, but Wells responded with a pair of free throws with :22 remaining.
Josh Fortune missed a Providence 3-point attempt with :12 left and Cotton missed another with :05 remaining. Batts went to the line with :02 left, hit the first of two free throws and missed the second, but Jake Layman pulled down the defensive rebound that sealed the win, adding a free throw to create the final margin of victory.
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon told his team during a late time out to “Just win the game.”
The Terrapins responded by tightening up their defense and crashing the boards.
“We told each other that we’ve got to tighten up, defend and rebound,” Wells said. “We can celebrate later.”
The Paradise Jam championship marked the Terps first appearance in an in-season tournament championship game since 2006, and it was their first meeting with Providence in 22 years.
Cotton finished with 19 points to lead the Friars. LaDontae Henton and Tyler Harris each added 10 points.
Neither team shot well, and Providence flirted with a record for offensive futility until catching fire down the stretch. The Friars were just 16 of 59 from the floor and 3 of 16 from 3-point range.
Maryland was just 21 of 58 from the field, but the Terrapins used a 45-38 advantage on the boards and a string of clutch boards on the defensive end to hold Providence at bay.
Maryland has rounded in to defensive form following a 90-83 loss at home to Oregon State. In the tournament the Terps beat Marist and Northern Iowa, both by wide margins, to reach the finals.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)