It took every second of the 40-minute game, but Maryland made enough key plays in the second half to survive and advance to the next round of the NCAA Tournament.
Maryland’s win can be attributed in large part to the play of its big men Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith, both posting double-doubles in the victory. The two combined for 33 points and 25 rebounds as the Terrapins registered a 79-77 win in a game that came down to a final half-court heave from Belmont.
Smith also led the Terrapins in scoring with 19 points and Darryl Morsell added 18. Eric Ayala was the fourth Maryland player to reach double figures with 12 points.
The final stats show just how evenly the two teams played from start to finish. Both teams shot below 45 percent from the floor and Maryland narrowly won the rebounding battle 41-37. Both teams had just five total turnovers and the Terrapins had 18 fouls compared to Belmont’s 16.
Smith came up huge in the final two minutes with a ferocious slam and foul, taking a 74-73 advantage to a four-point lead with 1:41 to play. Anthony Cowan Jr. and Morsell each hit one free throw late in the game to give Maryland enough of a cushion to record a win.
Maryland’s performance was far from perfect, but it was enough to get to the next round, where it will face LSU with a Sweet 16 berth on the line. Maryland’s last trip to the Sweet 16 came in 2016.