Wells' double-double carries No. 10 Maryland past Rutgers
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) With talented freshman Melo Trimble having an off night and Rutgers threatening a major upset, Dez Wells almost single-handedly carried No. 10 Maryland to a sixth straight win.
Wells had 20 points and 10 rebounds and scored six straight after Rutgers tied the game late in the second half in leading the Terps to a much-harder than expected 60-50 victory over the Scarlet Knights on Tuesday.
''It was another great win for us,'' Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said after Maryland (25-5, 13-4) was guaranteed at least the No.2 seed in the upcoming Big Ten Conference Tournament. ''It seemed Dez Wells put us on his back for the last 6, 7 minutes of the game. He had 10 points, made some shots, had the steal and a couple of free throws. He was really good.''
Wells was the difference in what might have been a great senior night at Rutgers (10-20, 2-15), which lost its 13th straight games. The skid is the longest since the Scarlet Knights lost 16 straight in 1987-88.
''We just fought tooth and nail,'' Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan said. ''But Dez Wells took over the game. That's what really, really good players do.''
Wells had to take over because Trimble, who was averaging a team-high 16.3 points, was limited to 10 points on 3 of 13 shooting.
''That's how this team is built,'' said Maryland forward Jake Layman, who had 14 points. ''If Melo is not playing well other guys step up.''
Maryland appeared somewhat in control after Layman drove the lane for a layup and a 45-38 lead with 11:31 to play.
Rutgers, however, started crashing the boards and it scored the next seven points with the first four coming on rebound putbacks and the final three coming a long shot by senior Myles Mack that tied the game at 45 with 6:02 to play.
That's when Wells took over. The senior hit a spinning bank shot from about 12 feet, made two free throws and then he stole a pass after blowing a rebound and scored on a thunderous dunk for a 51-45 lead with 4:27 to go.
''I elevated my game and helped my guys out,'' said Wells, who was 8 of 13 from the field. ''For a while we could not hit a shot, so I just wanted to give the best shot for my team.''
Damonte Dodd capped the 8-0 run with a big dunk with 3:38 to go.
Rutgers, which has not won since beating Wisconsin here in early January, made one more run. Junior Etou hit two free throws, Jack made the first of two and Lewis grabbed the rebound of the second miss to close the gap to 53-50 with under 2 minutes to play.
Wells took over again, sandwiching a layup and two free throws around two free throws by Evan Smotrycz to seal the win.
Greg Lewis had 12 points and seven rebounds and senior Kadeem Jack had a career-high 16 rebounds in his final home game at the Rutgers Athletic Center.
''The effort was there from the beginning,'' Mack said. ''The guys came out with a lot of energy. It's amazing what we can do when we put the effort in. We just have to put the ball in the basket more.''
Maryland: The Terps didn't shoot well as a team, finishing 22 of 57 (38.6 percent) from the field and 5 of 22 from long range (22.7 percent).
''We defended well, held them to 32 percent,'' Turgeon said. ''That's pretty good considering all the second chance points (21) we gave up.''
Rutgers: Before its final home game, the Scarlet Knights honored its seniors: Mack, Jack, Malick Kone and Stephen Zurich. Only about 1,500 fans were in the building for the ceremony because of inclement weather but the crowd picked up during the game.
Maryland plays at Nebraska on Sunday.
Rutgers plays at Michigan on Saturday.