ATLANTA — It wasn’t the first time Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon had taken sophomore Terrell Stoglin aside this season and talked about what it means to “be a better teammate.”
But on this occasion — the Terrapins’ flight to Atlanta for the ACC tournament — Stoglin took the coach’s words to heart. And Thursday, Stoglin acted on them, staging his most disciplined and selfless performance of the season in leading eighth-seeded Maryland to an 82-60 rout of No. 9 seed Wake Forest in the tournament’s opening round.
Stoglin wasn’t simply the game’s leading scorer — he finished with 25 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Far more noteworthy were his team-high seven rebounds, four assists and two steals.
“I just wanted to do anything I could do to help us win,” Stoglin said. “Doing the little things that end up being big: helping my team out on the defensive end, rebounding, just things other than scoring.”
Thursday’s win was Maryland’s most lopsided at the ACC tournament since a 23-point drubbing of Florida State in the 2002 quarterfinals. And given that it snapped the three-game losing streak that concluded Maryland’s regular season, Turgeon had one word for its significance.
“Huge,” the coach said. “It was huge. My guys have competed for me and tried hard and, for the most part, been fun to be around. They’ve put up with a lot from me. Just to get a taste [of postseason victory] like this is good.”
Fortune hadn’t been kind to Maryland or Wake Forest since the teams met in early January in College Park, a game the Terrapins won, 70-64. Since then, Maryland lost starting point guard Pe’Shon Howard to a season-ending knee injury and Wake Forest suspended Ty Walker, its 7-foot shot-blocking center, for an unspecified infraction.
Thursday, Maryland proved it has compensated nicely, with converted point guard Nick Faust scoring 19 points (the most by a Maryland freshman in an ACC tournament game since Laron Profit’s 19 in an 82-69 victory over Duke in March 1996) and playing terrific defense, too.
Moreover, the Terrapins overcame their troubling tendency to squander leads late in games. After taking a 36-31 lead at halftime, Maryland opened the second half on a 20-4 run and protected its advantage so scrupulously that every walk-on on the roster took the floor before the final buzzer sounded.
Maryland’s scoring was nicely distributed from the outset, with all five starters — Sean Mosley, James Padgett, Alex Len, Faust and Stoglin — hitting shots in the first six minutes to help Maryland to a 12-7 lead.
Turgeon substituted early and often, hoping to wear out short-handed Wake Forest (13-18). Walk-on Jonathan Thomas was sent in early, and he drilled his first three-point attempt — only the third three-pointer of his improbable college career and his first since Nov. 25.
Maryland had trouble defending 6-8 forward Nikita Mescheriakov and C.J. Harris early, and Wake Forest had a 26-21 lead with 6 minutes 54 seconds left. But Stoglin made a terrific strip and raced in for the layup to retake the lead about two minutes later, and Maryland started running more.
Stoglin kept up the selfless play in the second half, dishing to Padgett under the rim for an easy score, then firing a bullet pass to Faust, who completed the layup for a 40-33 lead. Then he reeled off nine unanswered points of his own — two three-pointers and three free throws upon being fouled beyond the arc.
Len followed with a dunk and foul shot to put the Terps ahead, 52-35, with 15:52 remaining.
With Maryland up 71-49 and more than 7 minutes remaining, Mescheriakov fouled out. Demon Deacons guard Tony Chennault followed soon afterward.
With nearly six minutes left, Turgeon summoned Stoglin to the bench, the score 75-49. And with 3:31 remaining, Turgeon went to an all-walk-on lineup, the game safely in hand.