COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Dez Wells hadn’t missed a shot all night, and with the game tied and the clock winding down, Maryland’s leading scorer had no intention of finally clanging one off the rim.
Wells drilled the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 5.9 seconds left to provide Maryland with a 74-71 victory over Miami on Wednesday night.
Limited to five minutes of playing time and no shots in the first half after picking up two quick fouls, Wells went 7 for 7 from the floor and 6 for 6 at the foul line over the final 20 minutes to finish with 21 points.
The Terrapins blew a 10-point lead over the final 2 minutes before Wells connected from the top of the key to break the deadlock.
“I’ve taken those shots a million times since the preseason,” Wells said. “I just have confidence in my shot. In those type of situations, I was smiling. I feel no pressure.”
After Wells’ final basket, Maryland fouled Manu Lacomte, who missed both free throws with 2.5 seconds remaining. Lacomte botched the second one intentionally, but Maryland’s Jake Layman grabbed the rebound an instant before the final buzzer.
Layman and Evan Smotrycz each tallied 15 points for the Terrapins, who won for only the second time in six games. Maryland (12-9, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) trailed 55-54 with 8:37 remaining before Wells scored 10 points during a 15-4 run that made it 69-59 with 2:32 to go.
Miami came back, though, in a game that was tied eight times and had 11 lead changes.
The difference was Wells.
“He only played five minutes in the first half. He was very well-rested, very determined to come in and have a much better half,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “He made an incredible shot to win the game. He just rose up from 3. He’s not what you would call a lights out 3-point shooter. It’s not his bread-and-butter shot. He was shooting the ball so well tonight that I sure he felt like, `Hey, I can make this.”‘
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon was hoping Wells would take the shot from closer to the basket, but had no complaints with the result.
“I’d rather have Dez drive it, but he shot it and I’m glad he made it,” Turgeon said. “He had made up his mind. We had our guys in the right spot and he was feeling good.”
Rion Brown led Miami with 25 points and Lacomte had 19. The Hurricanes (10-10, 2-6) have dropped four of five.
“We played better offense than we normally do. We shot the ball well,” Larranaga said. “We were 10 for 20 in the first half, 12 for 24 in the second half, 50 percent for the game, 42 percent from 3. The only thing we didn’t shoot well is from the foul line.”
Miami went 18 for 28 at the line, including 12 for 13 by Brown. The Hurricanes struggled defensively, however, giving up the more points than in any ACC game this season and allowing the Terps to shoot 70 percent (16 for 23) after halftime.
Maryland threatened to pull away several times in the second half, but Miami wouldn’t let it happen.
The Terrapins led 36-31, 43-35 and 48-40 before the Hurricanes rallied. A 3-pointer by Davon Reed capped a 10-2 spurt that tied it at 50. After Maryland got layups from Layman and Wells, Miami countered with a jumper by Garrius Adams and a 3 by Brown to move in front for the first time since late in the first half.
The back-and-forth duel continued when Wells made two foul shots and Adams made one of two at the line to tie it at 56 with seven minutes left.
A first half that featured seven lead changes and three ties ended with Maryland using a late layup by Seth Allen to go up 30-29.
After Miami used a 7-0 run to take a 14-11 lead, the Terrapins got 3-pointers from Smotrycz, Layman and Nick Faust in an 11-2 run. The Hurricanes then reeled off six straight points to temporarily move back in front.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)