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NCAA Tournament: Belmont, Dylan Windler come up just short against Maryland, lose 79-77

The senior star put on a show, but the Terrapins survived.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Maryland vs Belmont John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Belmont won its biggest game in program history on Tuesday, giving Rick Byrd a chance to double his NCAA Tournament win total against Maryland. After a tense game, and tense final moment, the Bruins fell to the Terrapins, 79-77.

After scoring just five points in the Bruins’ first NCAA Tournament win ever against Temple, Dylan Windler went off on Thursday. The senior forward started the game hot, scoring 15 points in the first half, and going four-for-seven from long range. As a team, Belmont exploded out of the gate, scoring 28 points in the first 12 minutes and jumping out to a double digit lead.

A young Maryland team didn’t get rattled.

Terrapins guard Darryl Morsell got hot, scoring seven straight, and Bruno Fernando was able to dominate the paint. The Belmont bigs did not have an answer for Fernando as he finished the first half with a double-double. Maryland would cut the Belmont lead to just six at half.

The Terrapins then took the momentum from the first half and got hot to start the second. Belmont missed their first three shots out of the break, and the Terrapins ignited a 14-0 run. After 10-straight missed shots from the Bruins, Windler broke the ice hitting a deep three to make it a five point game. Belmont would get an ensuing stop, and Windler would score his second consecutive basket on a reverse layup.

The Terrapins did not go away. Fernando powered through the Belmont interior with an up and under then Morsell hit a big three in the corner to make it a one point game. Morsell constantly came up big for Maryland, finishing with 18 points.

The game, however, came down to the final minutes.

Bruins big man Nick Muszynski (9 points) hit a big three to cut the Maryland lead to just one at 78-77 with 59.4 seconds left.

Belmont then got a stop on the Maryland’s next possession, and had the ball with 27 seconds left down just one. Needing a bucket to win the game, Byrd allowed the team to play until the final second. Point guard Grayson Murphy held the ball at the top of the key running the clock down to 10 seconds, as Belmont tried to set up a patented back door layup for Windler. The pass never made it to Windler, and was picked off by the Terrapins, leaving 2.5 seconds on the clock.

After a missed free throw, Kevin McClain (19 points) grabbed the rebound and passed it to Windler, whose half court heave for the win — and history — came up short.

Maryland advances to play LSU, which defeated Yale in a similarly close game earlier on Thursday.