Players embraced. Coach Mark Turgeon didn’t wear a scowl on his face during his postgame press conference. Fans streamed for the exits early with a blowout in full effect. And walk-ons took to the floor with two minutes left in regulation.
Logan Aronhalt led Maryland in scoring with 13 points Saturday against Wake Forest.
Coming off an emotional defeat to Florida State, one in which players shed a few tears in the locker room after watching Michael Snaer hit a dagger 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds left in regulation, there was a distinctly different mood among Turgeon and players following a 86-60 win over Wake Forest on Saturday afternoon in front of 16,179 fans inside Comcast Center.
The 26-point win was just what the doctor ordered, giving the Terps some positive momentum starting the month of February after losing two straight and five of their last seven games. It was Maryland’s largest margin of victory vs. an ACC team since Feb. 25, 2003 against Clemson, when the Terps won 91-52.
“That was fun. We needed it. We needed a win,” Turgeon said. “I’m proud of our guys. We talked about playing with energy, playing hard and having fun. We put a lot more effort into us than we did Wake Forest today, and it really helped.
“It was pretty big. We had guys crying after [the Florida State] game, which shows you they care. It’s good for everybody, coaches included.”
The Terps offense was clicking, and six players reached double figures in points for the first time this season and since Feb. 9, 2011 against Longwood.
Logan Aronhalt finished with a team-high 13 points, while Seth Allen, Jake Layman, Alex Len and James Padgett added 12 points apiece and Dezmine Wells tallied 11. As a team, the Terps shot 67 percent (35-for-52) from the field and 68 percent (11-for-16) from 3-point range. And despite committing 19 turnovers, the Terps finished with 21 assists.
“It’s a completely different feel,” guard Logan Aronhalt said. “We played hard against Florida State. It wasn’t our best defensive game, but we executed on offense. We thought it was our time, but they made a tough shot to win the game. Tonight we really executed and things played out for us.”
Maryland (16-6, 4-5 ACC) got off to a quick start Saturday against the Demon Deacons (10-11, 3-6) and put together its arguably best performance in one half since the second half against Northwestern.
The Terps worked the ball inside early, giving Len and Padgett looks in the post. The duo scored 10 points before the first media timeout, as the Terps took an early lead. Maryland subsequently went on a 12-0 run, holding Wake Forest scoreless for nearly seven minutes, a stretch in which the Demon Deacons missed 11 straight shots.
At halftime, nine different players had already recorded a point, and the Terps were shooting 73.9 percent (17-for-23) from the floor and 80 percent (4-for-5) from 3-point range. The Terps also outrebounded Wake Forest, 20-9, in the first half, leading to limited second chance opportunities for the Demon Deacons, who were shooting an abysmal 8-for-31 after the game’s first 20 minutes.
The Terps’ 42 first half points were the second most they’ve scored in the first half of an ACC game all year. They scored 53 in the first 20 minutes against Virginia Tech.
It didn’t stop there, though, and the Terps picked up right where they left off in the second half. A couple more 3-pointers from Layman and a few slam-dunks from Len gave the Terps two separate 7-0 runs during the first six minutes of the second half.
The Terps coasted the rest of the way and eventually put in their lineup of walk-ons with just more than two minutes left in the 26-point shell shocking.
“We played inside out today, and then guards were making shots today,” Len said. “It was just good today.”
“We needed this game badly,” Layman added. “It was great to see our offense really flow like that tonight. It was just good to see … We knew we needed to come out to win tonight, and we did.”
With the win, the Terps snapped a two-game losing streak and picked up their fifth straight victory against Wake Forest. But for the Terps, it was more about putting the Florida State game behind them with a dominant showing against one of the bottom feeders of the ACC.
“We were kind of down after the past couple of games,” Len said. “Today we got back up. We just need to continue to play hard.”