“It's a good win for us,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said after the game. “I think George Mason is an excellent team that is going to win a lot of games. They have a great coach. It took us a long time to get used to their quickness. We couldn't simulate their quickness in practice. We turned the ball over a lot, we actually turned it over the whole game.”
This was the eighth time the Terrapins faced off against the Patriots, with the Terps winning all eight. The last time the two teams met was back on Dec. 4, 2004 in the BB&T Classic held at what was then called the MCI Center. Maryland won that game by a convincing score of 78-54.
Wells led the Terps with a career-high 25 points after setting a previous career high just a game before against Northwestern. Wells also had six rebounds, two assists and a block but turned the ball over five times. Sophomore center Alex Len had 12 points and nine rebounds while recording three blocks and sophomore guard Nick Faust scored 14 points, dished four assists and grabbed five boards.
“He is feeling more comfortable,” Turgeon said about Wells. “A week ago Saturday, against Georgia Southern he was about as bad as he could be. He flipped a switch and got real aggressive. He got some open looks and got eight points right out of the shoot. He had a great week. More importantly I thought he defended well and rebounded better than he had. He is still turning the ball over too much. I told him he is on pace to set a record. He looked at me and said 'For turnovers?' and I said 'Yeah.'”
“Whatever my team needs from me, that's what I'm going to provide,” Wells said. “I don't want to make this about myself because I couldn't have done this without my team. They welcomed me with open arms when I first got here and I couldn't have done any of this without those guys. My coaches have also done a great job developing my game and helping me and stringing me along with everything that's happened to me. They have been here like a family. We're just getting closer every game.”
The Terrapins dominated the paint once again, out-rebounding the Patriots 49-34 and outscoring them in the paint 32-22, but the Patriots were able to hang in the game thanks to Maryland's 19 turnovers and their shoddy performance from the free throw line, missing 16 of their 39 attempts. George Mason kept the game close, despite shooting 31 percent from the field.
The Terps jumped to a quick 13-6 lead over the Patriots, thanks to Wells who scored Maryland's first eight points. The Terrapins would hold onto the lead, but George Mason pulled within three points after Patrick Holloway made back-to-back three pointers with under four minutes to play in the first half. Sherrod Wright made two free throws to cut Maryland's lead to one with under two minutes in the half. Wells, who had 15 points in the first half, would respond with a three pointer to give the Terps a 34-30 lead at halftime.
The Patriots would come out firing with a 7-0 run to start the second half with Anali Okoloji making a three-point jumper to give George Mason their first lead of the game, 37-34 with 17:37 left in the game. The Terps would respond with an alley-oop pass from Howard to Faust, who jammed the ball through the hoop. Len would follow the score with a layup to give the Terps the lead again. Wright scored for the Patriots to retake the lead. Well would answer for the Terps, by scoring five straight points to retake the lead, but Jonathan Arledge would score four straight points to tie the game up at 43 with 11:32 to play. Another score by Wells and two free throws by Padgett would give Maryland a 49-45 lead with under 10 minutes to play. The two teams would continue to trade buckets, but the Terps would not trail again, pulling away in the end, 69-62.
“I think young guys have learned a lot between two months ago and now,” Len said. “We're like a totally different team. We played good defense as a team. Helping each other is good for us. Also, rebounding for us is huge. Everyone goes on the boards.”
Patrick Holloway and Sherrod Wright led the Patriots with 17 points each and Wright added another seven rebounds to his stat sheet, but turned the ball over for six of the Patriots' nine turnovers. Bryon Allen had a team-high seven assists for George Mason.
With the win, Maryland improves to 6-1 on the season while George Mason falls to 5-3. The Terps will take on the University of Maryland Eastern Shore at home on Wednesday in an effort to extend their winning streak. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.