Despite earning a six seed from the selection committee, the Terps could not survive their first round matchup against 11 seeded Xavier, losing 76-65.
The game started with both teams under-performing on offense but the Musketeers were able to make some adjustments and pull away with a 12-0 run. Maryland took a little longer to find their groove. By the 10 minute mark the Terps were just 2-9 from beyond the arc and were struggling as a whole on offense.
In the NCAA tournament cold streaks are unacceptable. You have to find a way to score even if you are cold and Kevin Huerter was able to do just that by getting to the free throw line on back to back possessions. These free points finally reignited the Maryland offense and brought the Terps back within two.
At the break, the Terps held a slim 36-35 lead. A quick 6-0 run, capped off by a Melo Trimble fast break steal, gave Maryland the lead. Their three-point shooting improved and Xavier turned the ball over a lot down the stretch. Both of these factors combined for a Maryland comeback and a close halftime score.
The momentum stayed in Maryland’s favor as the second half began but a 15-4 run by the Musketeers made the game neck and neck with ten minutes to go. After tying the game up, Xavier stepped on the gas pedal and stretched the lead to 11 in a matter of minutes.
As the clock winded down, the Terps slowly chipped away at the lead and cut it to six with just under three minutes to play. However, some unnecessary fouls by Maryland quickly put the Musketeers back up with a more comfortable lead. They would hold onto this lead as the final minute concluded and cruise to a 76-65 win.
This concludes the Terps 2017 season. What started as a rebuilding year, ended with a third straight trip to the NCAA tournament for coach Mark Turgeon and Maryland. As the season progressed the freshman starters began to show the common signs of fatigue that come with playing over 30 games in a season.
Whether or not Melo Trimble returns for his senior year, there is a lot to be excited about for this young Terps team. The core of Huerter, Cowan, and Jackson will continue to grow and hopefully lead Maryland back to another tournament appearance next year.