WASHINGTON -- Dez Wells leaped through the air between two George Mason players and grabbed the basketball cascading off the rim. After corralling the loose ball, Wells streaked down the court, going coast-to-coast, before finishing a one-handed, contested layup.
Over Maryland's last two games, sophomore swingman Dez Wells has scored 48 points. (Photo by Bill Bride)
Against George Mason on Sunday in the BB&T Classic, Wells was a catalyst for the Maryland basketball team. When other players couldn’t find their shot or get the offense going, the Terps looked to Wells en route to a 69-62 victory in front of 10,256 inside Verizon Center.
Following his career game against Northwestern, when he finished with 23 points, Wells once again set a career-high and led all scorers with 25 points against George Mason (5-3) on Sunday. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound swingman shot 11-for-17 from the floor and recorded six rebounds, two assists and two steals.
“He’s just feeling more comfortable,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “A week ago, against Georgia Southern, he was as bad as he could be. He just flipped the switch and got real aggressive.”
“It’s just Dez getting a flow,” guard Nick Faust added. “Dez is a great player. We see him doing great things. He’s a great scorer. We do whatever we can to get him open. He definitely looks more comfortable now.”
Wells accounted for 36 percent of the Terps’ scoring and his 11 field goals matched the combined total for every other Maryland player.
“I’m going to cool off at some point,” said Wells, who has scored 48 points over Maryland’s last two outings. “At the end of the day, whatever my team needs me to do is what I’m going to provide, whether that’s getting rebounds or just sitting on the bench. I’m going to do whatever they want me to do.”
Other than Wells, though, Maryland (6-1) was mostly inconsistent. Just five days after playing arguably their best 20-minute stretch of basketball this season, the Terps struggled with turnovers, offensive rhythm and free throw shooting.
George Mason scored 21 points off 19 turnovers from the Terps, who shot 23-for-39 from the free throw line.
“We turned it over a lot. Actually, we turned it over the whole game,” Turgeon said. “Nineteen turnovers and 16 missed free throws kept the game close.”
“I’m going to set a record for turnovers at Maryland. I have to calm down with that,” said Wells, who had five turnovers against George Mason. “If we can control that and get our turnover average down, we’ll be a lot better team.”
After a back-and-forth first half in which Maryland boasted a nine-point lead before taking a four-point advantage into the break, George Mason came out firing on all cylinders to start the second frame. The Patriots went on a 7-0 run to start the second half and took their first lead of the game, 37-34, at the 17:50 mark.
After the Patriots’ quick burst to start the half, Turgeon called a timeout to calm his players down. The tactic seemingly worked, as Maryland went on an 8-2 and never again relinquished the lead again.
“I thought George Mason, for the first 23 minutes, played a lot tougher than we did,” Turgeon said. “I thought the last 17, after that last timeout, we showed a little more toughness and it was enough to win the game.”
Despite the Terps inability to put George Mason away due to their inconsistency on offense and alarming penchant for turning the ball over, Maryland was able to walk away with their sixth straight win.
And while speaking with the media postgame, that was what mattered most for players and Turgeon.
“It’s a good win for us. George Mason is a good team that’s going to win a lot of games,” Turgeon said before later adding, “The game didn’t go the way we wanted it to go today, but it will help us. We played 10 guys, every one of them played well defensively. I know guys have grown up defensively and are dialed in. As a coach, I’ve just got to figure out how to quit turning the ball over.”