By PATRICK WALSH
Kedrian Johnson had a career-high 27 points including 10 straight points after a Tre Mitchell free throw to start the second half, but it wasn’t enough as West Virginia fell to Maryland 67-65 in the Round of 64 on Thursday.
Jim Nantz called it “a game of runs” and that was exactly the difference maker in the game.
West Virginia got off to a hot start with a 16-4 run and forced six turnovers over the nine minutes the run occurred before Maryland stormed back and went on an 18-5 run of their own.
WVU center Jimmy Bell Jr. got caught in foul trouble early on and had to sit after receiving his third foul at the 9:39 mark. It was from there that the Terrapins found their groove, finishing the half 8-12 from the field after Bell’s departure. Bell eventually fouled out with 10:16 remaining in the game and did not record any points.
“We didn’t match up well with them when they started backing us in. It wasn’t a good matchup for us,” said WVU coach Bob Huggins.
The Terrapins had a much better-scoring distribution having four starters in double digits. Julian Reese led the Terrapins with 17 points. Reese was able to take advantage of the foul trouble the Mountaineers had with their centers and converted six field goals and five free throws with one rebound shy of a double-double.
After Erik Stevenson’s three-point jumper with 5:51 left, Maryland followed up with an 8-0 run, which included a Julian Reese poster dunk and West Virginia never saw the lead again after that point.
The Mountaineers will have holes to fill as all five starters were seniors and only two still have eligibility after this season, that being Tre Mitchell and Jimmy Bell Jr.
Maryland advances to play top-seeded Alabama.