BLACKSBURG, Va. — After seeing Maryland squander an 11-point lead and hit just one basket in the final 10 minutes of the first half, coach Mark Turgeon walked into the locker room at halftime and gave his team a direct message.
“I said, ‘I need men, not pouters,’” Turgeon said. “I want men. Guys who pout and feel sorry for themselves are going to watch the NCAA tournament. Teams that have men are going to be in it.”
Turgeon’s young team resembled men against Virginia Tech, as Jake Layman scored 14 points and the Terrapins made the big plays down the stretch in a 60-55 victory over the Hokies on Thursday night.
Layman hit 5 of 11 from the floor, including three 3-pointers, and he sparked an early second-half run that propelled the Terrapins (17-6, 5-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) to their second straight win after losing road games at Duke and at Florida State.
The Terrapins also won on the road for just the second time this season. Their only other road win came in late November at Northwestern.
“It’s big,” Turgeon said of the win. “Especially the way we had to do it. The crowd was in it. I know it wasn’t sold out or anything like that, but the crowd was in it. They made a run at us. They have a great player in (Erick) Green, who can make any shot that he attempts. It’s (the road win) going to go a long way for us going forward. It’s good for this young team.”
Maryland trailed 27-24 at halftime but opened the second half with a 14-3 run to take the lead for good. The Terrapins hit six of their first eight shots in the second half, including a 3-pointer and a short jumper by Layman, and they took a 38-30 lead with 15:12 left on a 3-pointer by Dez Wells.
Virginia Tech (11-11, 2-7), which lost its fifth straight, stayed in the game behind Green, the nation’s leading scorer at 25.2 points per game coming into this one. Green scored 13 of his game-high 29 points in the second half, and his jumper with 1:28 left cut Maryland’s lead to 54-53.
But Alex Len’s two free throws with 58.4 seconds left gave Maryland a 56-53 edge. After Virginia Tech’s Robert Brown missed a jumper in the lane, Maryland’s Nick Faust hit two free throws with 28 seconds left to push the lead to 58-53.
The Hokies got two free throws from Green with 9.6 seconds left to cut the lead to 58-55. But Seth Allen made one of two free throws with 8.3 seconds left to seal it for the Terrapins.
“I feel like this is Shawshank Redemption,” Virginia Tech coach James Johnson said. “I love that movie, and every time it’s on, I watch it. I see the same thing, and I know you guys (the media) hear the same thing (from him). It was another hard-fought game. We had a chance to win, were in position to win and didn’t make the plays to win.
“We had the opportunities. We didn’t make the plays, and we didn’t finish the game.”
Maryland, which came into the game ranked fourth nationally in field-goal percentage defense (36.3 percent), held the cold-shooting Hokies to just 33.8 percent (22 of 65). Virginia Tech hit just two field goals in the final 6:39.
Green connected on 10 of 23 from the floor for the Hokies, and Cadarian Raines, who scored 14 points, hit 7 of 13 from the floor. But the rest of the team combined for just five baskets.
“I thought our defense was terrific,” Turgeon said. “We did a great job on (Jarell) Eddie (1 of 8) and (Robert) Brown (1 of 9). We held Green to 29 on 23 shots. So we did a nice job on him, I thought.”
Maryland had a balanced attack, with five players scoring seven points or more. Len finished with 10 points and five rebounds, while Wells added eight points and James Padgett scored eight points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. The Terrapins out-rebounded the Hokies 46-38.
“Yeah,” Wells said when asked if this game was a grown-up moment for this team. “We got our second road win of the year. It feels like we haven’t won one of these in forever, which we haven’t. So it’s a really good feeling to go home with a win.”
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