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Maryland breaks out of offensive slump vs. Boston College

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Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy

Terrapins win with Wells at point guard

Trapping Joe Rahon on the baseline in front of the Maryland bench, Seth Allen gave his Terrapins teammates an up-close view of how to play pressure defense. When the harried Boston College guard flipped a desperate pass to nowhere for a turnover, coach Mark Turgeon jumped off the bench to clap his approval.

For a while Tuesday night, it appeared all Maryland would need against Boston College was its customary aggressive defense. But after missing their first eight attempts from beyond the arc, the 3-point dependent Eagles heated up late in the first half and forced the Terps to produce some long-awaited offense.

Getting strong work from Alex Len and resurgent freshman Jake Layman and using sophomore Dez Wells at the point, Maryland snapped out of its offensive slumber long enough to subdue Boston College 64-59 before 13,941 at Comcast Center.

It was still a grind. After using its fifth different starting lineup in six ACC games, the Terps struggled much of the night to find cohesion. But in a six-possession run midway through the second half, two layups by sophomore Nick Faust (11 points, seven rebounds) and 3-pointers by Layman (15 points, five rebounds) and senior Logan Aronhalt (eight points) helped the Terps turned a three-point deficit into an eight-point lead.

After Len (16 points, 13 rebounds) closed the run with a dunk, the closest Boston College (9-9, 1-4) got was three points. A 3-pointer by Faust with 1:36 left gave Maryland a 61-54 lead, sealing the fate of the pesky Eagles.

“I’m unbelievably proud of my team,” Turgeon said. “Tonight we figured out how to win.”

Matching the lineup of the visitors, Maryland (15-4, 3-3) thrived with a four-guard lineup for part of the second half, using Layman up front with Len and Wells (five points, five rebounds, eight assists) as the primary ball-handler in Turgeon’s never-ending search for a point guard. During the six-possession splurge, Wells assisted on four of the baskets.

“I wanted to play Nick because Nick was playing well, but he was having trouble handling it tonight,” Turgeon said. “So we went with Dez. I think the biggest play, we were down by three, he got Logan a shot from the corner. That was a big shot for us.”

On another night of experimentation, Maryland may have finally found a man to take control of its troubled halfcourt offense. Seven of Wells’ assists came in the second half. His previous career high was five.

“I think he just brings aggressiveness, and he can really get to the rim and finish and make free throws,” Aronhalt said. “Having the ball in his hands, coming off the ball screen, is a really good look for us.”

Another positive was the play of Layman, who was in the starting lineup and hit five of nine shots, facing the team that recruited him out of high school in Connecticut. Layman showed no discomfort at the four position.

“It gives me a chance to move around a little more,” Layman said. “It works for me. We were in that for about 15 minutes in the second half. That’s what got us the lead back.”

Maryland started in familiar fashion, with energetic defense and disjointed offense. Midway through the first half, the Terps held a 14-7 lead. But after missing its first eight 3-point attempts, Boston College drilled five in the final 7:02 of the first half with two each coming from sophomore Lonnie Jackson and freshman Olivier Hanlan (18 points) as the Eagles surged to a 29-24 lead.

Led by 6-foot-8 Ryan Anderson (19 points, seven rebounds), Boston College still had the lead 41-38 with 12 minutes left when Maryland finally figured something out on the offensive end.

“We gutted it out. We had to play a small lineup to defend them. They are really hard to guard,” Turgeon said. “We don’t practice the small lineup enough. We will going forward.”

For the Terps, it was another day, another lineup. Maybe this one will take hold.

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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