Terrapins shock No. 2 Blue Devils
One year after a humbling defeat in its opening game of the NCAA Tournament on the same court, nationally second-ranked Duke tumbled out of the ACC Tournament in similar upset fashion Friday night.
The Blue Devils were thoroughly outplayed, outhustled and out-just about anything else in the Greensboro Coliseum, falling 83-74 to seventh-seeded Maryland in the quarterfinals.
“They came and punched us in the mouth,” said Duke sophomore point guard Quinn Cook.
Maryland’s Dez Wells pummeled the Blue Devils (27-5) for 30 points, moving the Terrapins (22-11) into the semifinals against North Carolina or Florida State, who met in a game that had not ended by press time.
“He had it going, every which way,” Cook said of Wells. “It was tough on us. I don’t think he missed a free throw down the stretch. He sealed the game.”
Nick Faust, Alex Len and Jake Layman added 10 points each, with Layman grabbing nine boards and Len eight.
Maryland’s physical presence was a Duke detriment throughout the evening, whether Len specifically against senior All-America candidate Mason Plumlee, or Layman and the burly and excitable Charles Mitchell off the bench as well.
“I thought our defense was phenomenal,” said Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon. “We wanted Plumlee to beat us and they missed some shots for us, too.”
The upset kept Maryland’s NCAA chances alive and sent a charge into the crowd of more than 21,000. Duke entered having won 10 of its last 11 in the ACC Tournament, having appeared in every championship since 1998 except for last year and 2007 and 2008.
“You have to be good and you have to be lucky to beat a great team,” Turgeon said. “We were a little bit of both.”
Duke, previously considered a challenger to Gonzaga for the highest national seed in next week’s NCAA Tournament, was 4-for-25 from 3-point range and shot 41 percent from the floor.
More significantly, Duke’s defense never made the short trip from Durham. The Terrapins shot 51 percent for the game and were still above 60 past midway of the second half. Maryland assisted 18 of its 26 made field goals and shot 23 of 25 at the line.
“We didn’t protect our basket well,” said Duke’s Ryan Kelly. “It seemed like every time we did get a stop at the basket, they kicked over to the shooters and they knocked them down. Our defense was not good.”
Duke had not lost with Kelly on the floor this season. On defense, the Blue Devils were often lost trying to get out on Maryland shooters.
“We weren’t the Duke team that’s played most of this season, especially these last couple of weeks,” said Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “I’m disappointed in our performance, but also very impressed with the performance of Maryland.”
It was the Blue Devils’ first loss in the quarterfinals since 1997, and in a league tournament game in Greensboro for the first time since 2004.
Duke never led, fell behind 12-2 and by as much as a dozen in the first half. They were within one twice just before midway of the second half. The Terps surged back in front by 13 with less than six minutes to play.
“We weren’t too far back, but they made key plays down the stretch, plus some big shots,” Cook said. “They put it away with the free throws.”
Plumlee scored 19 points, Rasheed Sulaimon 16 and Seth Curry 15 for the Blue Devils.
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