COLLEGE PARK--Hand it to Nick Faust. Then hand it to Dez Wells. Without two energy-boosting plays delivered by two of Maryland’s juniors, one just before the end of the first half and one slightly after the start of the second, there might have been a very different outcome against Virginia Tech on Tuesday night in College Park.
With under five seconds to play in the first half, a Nick Faust steal and dunk brought the crowd to its feet at Comcast Center and the sound of applause played Maryland into the locker room with just a one-point deficit, 29-28.
Then just 13 seconds into the second, a Dez Wells steal and layup, plus a converted free throw, gave Maryland a lead that it would not relinquish in a 64-47 victory over the Hokies at Comcast Center.
Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon specifically pointed to Wells’ play as a catalyst during his postgame press conference.
“Our energy level was different," he said. "We had a positive attitude."
Just minutes later, Maryland would hit three-pointers on four straight possessions and five of its next six, ballooning the lead to 12 points with 12:44 to play.
“The leader of the team has to do something, so you know you’ve got to try to find a way to win,” Wells said, before shifting the narrative to his teammates. “I felt it was a good play for our team. We responded well from the first half. I felt like we picked it up in the second half.”
While Maryland struggled to rebound on Tuesday night, ending up at (-10) on the night and giving up 19 second-chance points, but played one of its most efficient games of the year.
The Terrapins had 18 assists and turned the ball over just five times. That assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.6-to-1 is more than four times higher than its season average of 0.89-to-1.
Put that in hand with a strong second-half defensive effort, which Turgeon highlighted, and the flip in the final 20 minutes comes naturally.
In closing, Wells shunned mentions of his individual plays, including the game-changing layup plus the foul, and summed Tuesday up in one phrase that he happily repeated twice while rocking backwards in his chair.
“It’s fun winning. It’s fun winning.”
Maryland is now 16-14 overall and 8-9 in conference play.