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Maryland lacrosse vanquishes championship demons with defining victory over Ohio State

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Maryland lacrosse vanquishes championship demons with defining victory over Ohio State

For the fifth time in seven seasons, the Maryland Terrapins had plans on Memorial Day.

But they didn't just have plans, they had dreams, too.

Dreams of tossing their helmets, sticks and gloves into the air as they celebrate the NCAA Men's Lacrosse National Championship.

But in 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2016, Memorial Day ended with no dreams, just nightmares.

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Despite nine appearances in the National Championship Game since 1975, the Terrapins had zero titles to show for.

It had become a trend. An ugly, embarrassing trend for the largest university in the largest hotspot of American lacrosse.

But on Monday afternoon at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., the Terrapins vanquished 42 years of championship nightmares, defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes 9-6 for the program's first national championship since that 1975 victory.

The two Big Ten teams had met twice prior to Monday's championship game, with both teams earning an 11-10 victory.

But junior goalie Dan Morris, who had just 17 saves and 21 goals against in the two previous meetings against the Buckeyes, put on a dazzling performance, recording 11 saves, including two huge stops in the final five minutes to turn the Terps' title dreams into a reality.

The Terps' final drive to the title came in the fourth quarter. It began with Matt Rambo, the program's all-time leading scorer, senior caption and heavy favorite to capture the 2017 Tewaaraton Award. 

With just over 10 minutes remaining and the Terps up 7-3, the burly Pennsylvania native drove to the goal from behind the cage and hurled an unbalanced, fade-away shot past Buckeyes goalie Tom Carey. It wasn't just the Tewaaraton Trophy moment from Rambo, but it was also Maryland's championship moment. It was an image that will likely be plastered on the walls inside the new Cole Field House.

But as is the case in lacrosse, the fastest game on two feet, the Buckeyes responded just 12 seconds later. It was their first goal of the second half and it gave Ohio State new life. The Terps would not be able to finally get over the national championship hump without having to fight through nerves, butterflies, and a five-goal lead that quickly became just a three-goal lead with plenty of time remaining. Following the Jake Withers goal to make it 8-4, Tre LeClaire beat Morris to cut the Maryland lead to 8-5 with 5:01 remaining.

Three minutes later, Johnny Pearson beat Morris to make it 8-6.

The Buckeyes had gone nearly 20 minutes without a goal but fired off three in eight minutes to serve as the last true obstacle for the Terrapins. 

However, Tim Rotanz, who finished with a game-high three goals, buried an empty-net goal with 59 seconds to pass the final test. As the seconds ticked off the clock, the Maryland bench began jumping up and down. Alumni, near and far, exhaled and began to celebrate.

Even John Tillman, the Terps stoic head coach who entered Monday with an 0-4 record in national championship games since joining Maryland in 2010, took a deep breath and could be seen cracking a smile, if only a slight one.

The Terps had plans for Monday, and for the first time since 1975, they followed through.

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Palmer's big 2nd half lifts Huskers past Maryland

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Palmer's big 2nd half lifts Huskers past Maryland

LINCOLN, Neb. -- James Palmer Jr. scored 24 of his 26 points in the second half, Isaiah Roby had all 11 of his after half, and Nebraska held off Maryland 70-66 on Tuesday night.

Palmer and Roby combined for 35 of the Cornhuskers' 40 second-half points, and they secured their first 20-win season since 2008. They won a sixth straight conference game for the first time in 20 years.

Palmer scored 15 straight points for the Huskers (20-8, 11-4 Big Ten) over a 10-minute span that ended when Roby hit one of two free throws with 2:57 left for a 64-59 lead. Roby had a double-double, with 10 rebounds, and he also blocked three shots.

The Terps (17-11, 6-9) had a chance to take the lead with a minute to play, but Glynn Watson Jr. blocked Anthony Cowan Jr.'s 3-point try, Evan Taylor came up with the loose ball and got it to Watson.

Watson missed a 3-pointer coming out of a timeout, and Roby got the rebound and was immediately fouled. He made both free throws for a 66-63 lead. Kevin Huerter's layin cut it to one point before Watson made two free throws.

Huerter went to the line with 2.8 seconds left, and after making the first free throw he intentionally missed the second. Palmer got the rebound, was fouled and put the game away with two free throws.

Bruno Fernando led the Terps with 21 points and nine rebounds. Huerter added 12 points and Darryl Morsell had 11.

BIG PICTURE

Maryland: The Terps' fading NCAA Tournament hopes might have been dashed with their seventh straight road loss.

Nebraska: The Huskers are resting firmly on the NCAA bubble and absolutely needed this win. They got it, thanks to Palmer and Roby's efforts in the second half.

UP NEXT

Maryland hosts Rutgers on Saturday. It's the teams' only meeting this season.

Nebraska visits Illinois. The Huskers beat the Illini 64-63 in Lincoln on Jan. 15.

RELATED: DMV College Basketball Power Rankings: Missed opportunities

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Maryland overwhelmed by Penn State in close loss

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USA TODAY Sports

Maryland overwhelmed by Penn State in close loss

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Lamar Stevens feels like he's playing his most consistent basketball right now, a bad omen for upcoming opponents considering Penn State expects its hybrid forward to do a little bit of everything.

Just like he did on Wednesday.

Stevens scored 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting with 14 in the second half to lift Penn State over Maryland 74-70.

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"Lamar really stepped up for us," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "We needed every one of those points that he had tonight."

Tony Carr added 16 points, Josh Reaves scored 14, and Mike Watkins added 11 for the Nittany Lions (17-9, 7-6 Big Ten Conference), who equaled their previous best mark for conference victories under Chambers.

"The best teams always find ways to win," Stevens said. "We locked down when we had to, got huge stops, huge rebounds and I think that's a huge step for this team."

With Maryland (16-10, 5-8) up 20-14 midway through the first half, Stevens nailed his first of two 3-pointers to spark a quick 9-0 run that helped Penn State take control.

He rolled layups off his fingers and sank midrange jumpers on multiple back-to-back possessions in the second half, where he scored 11 of his team's first 20 points.

"He made some incredible, incredible shots," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "He was terrific, he was so efficient."

Stevens added four rebounds, two assists and was 3-for-4 on free throws with all three makes coming in the final 5:48 as Maryland threatened.

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Anthony Cowan Jr. led Maryland with 15 points while Kevin Huerter and Bruno Fernando added 13 apiece.

Darryl Morsell had 10 points for the Terrapins, who cut a 10-point deficit with 8:11 to play to just three with 1:13 left.

"I didn't think we competed in the first half defensively," Turgeon said. "I thought in the second half, we were really trying hard."

BIG PICTURE

Maryland: The Terrapins' disappointing season continues and they have dropped to 7-7 since stalwart forward Justin Jackson's season was ended by a torn shoulder ligament in late December. Although they shot better than their season average, the Terrapins were badly outplayed in the paint, getting outscored 32-22 and outrebounded 27-23.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions are playing an exciting brand of basketball as of late. They have a combined 22 dunks over their last three home games and opponents are finding it hard to play fast against a team that thrives on speed.