South Dakota State climbed out of a massive hole in the second half but just couldn't reach the summit.
Maryland was a preseason top-3 team in both major polls and a trendy pick to be this year's best team. Then conference play hit, and the Terps stumbled to a 12-6 record in the Big Ten and lost five of eight to finish the season. As far as Duke transfer Rasheed Sulaimon is concerned, his Terrapins are 1-0 after today's victory.
"Besides a couple of games that have already taken place thus far, everyone is 0-0," Sulaimon said pregame. "So it's a new start for us, and we're very confident. we're very confident in our abilities and individually and collectively as a team."
As a team they outshot the Jackrabbits 51.1% to 40.7% and individually Jake Layman lit it up from distance and led the way with 27 points.
South Dakota State had no answer for Maryland point guard Melo Trimble early, and he scored 15 of his 19 points during the first half. The Jackrabbits response was a 9 of 35 performance from the field. Maryland took a 24-22 lead into the break.
Coming out of the half it looked as if nothing would change. South Dakota State made a number of careless turnovers and started just two of six from the field.
Four minutes into the half Jared Nickens (14 points) knocked down a three. Maryland went on to hit four more from distance on the ensuing four possessions. South Dakota State tried to answer each with a three of their own but failed on the first, second, third and fourth tries. Maryland's lead expanded to 18 three times during the middle of the second half.
Then the Terps went ice cold, just as quickly as they had blown the game open.
George Marshall scored all of his 15 points in the second half and Deondre Parks (22 points) added 14. After coming out of the break two of six from the field the Jackrabbits finished by hitting 13 of their final 19. Coupled with Maryland going one of five, all of the sudden we had ourselves a game.
With 1:03 to play Marshall was fouled by Trimble, his fifth, in the act of shooting. Marshall knocked down all three and cut Maryland's lead to two, 72-70.
A pair of Layman free throws on the other end, twice during the final minute, reestablished a two possession lead. But then Maryland went out and fouled a three point shooter. This time it was Parks, and this time he got to knock down three straight free throws.
With less than 15 seconds to pay the Jackrabbits had to play the foul game to stop the clock, and it worked. They stayed within one possession. They had the ball and a chance to tie the game.
Until Rasheed Sulaimon stole the ball from Keaton Moffitt, took it down the court and threw down a slam with 0.2 to play.
Maryland advances to face No. 13 Hawaii on Sunday.