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Maryland lacrosse vanquishes championship demons with defining victory over Ohio State

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USA Today Sports

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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Another injury scare limits Maryland in loss to Indiana

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Another injury scare limits Maryland in loss to Indiana

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Juwan Morgan scored 10 of his 25 points during Indiana's decisive late run Monday night, leading the Hoosiers to a 71-68 victory over Maryland.

Robert Johnson had 12 points and eight rebounds as the Hoosiers (12-8, 5-3 Big Ten) closed out the game on a 14-6 spurt to win their fourth straight at home.

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Anthony Cowan Jr. had 18 points and Kevin Huerter finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Terrapins (15-7, 4-5), who haven't won a conference road game since Dec. 3.

Both had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds but Cowan's 3-pointer bounced high off the rim with six seconds left and, after Indiana's Zach McRoberts missed two free throws, Huerter's half-court heave hit nothing but air.

Maryland's offense struggled early and late and eventually, it proved costly.

After going more than 6 minutes without a basket in the second half, the Terrapins used a 9-0 run to charge back and take a 62-57 lead with 4:53 left.

But Indiana scored seven straight and retook a 64-62 lead on Johnson's layup with 3:18 left.

Maryland never led again.

BIG PICTURE

Maryland: Coach Mark Turgeon knows the road is a tough place to find consistency. And if the Terrapins want to make a late-season push, that's what they must do. They've now lost four straight conference road games since beating Illinois -- and this one was within their grasp.

Indiana: The Hoosiers have improved steadily this season, and Monday's game was another example of how far they've come. At times, the Hoosiers' defense confused Maryland. And when the Terrapins started making 3s, the Hoosiers had an answer each time. That hasn't always happened this season.

KEY STATS

Maryland: Freshman Bruno Fernando did not the play the final 15 minutes after appearing to hurt his lower right leg or right ankle. ... The Terrapins were 4 of 13 on 3-pointers in the second half after starting 5 of 10. ... Maryland outscored Indiana 16-2 on second-chance points, 26-10 in bench points and outrebounded the Hoosiers 39-28.

Indiana: Morgan missed the final 22 minutes of Friday night's game with an injured right ankle and the Hoosiers weren't sure until Monday whether he would play. He finished with five rebounds and four assists, too. ... Justin Smith had 12 points. ... The Hoosiers had 10 steals and were 9 of 16 at the free throw line. ... Indiana was 6 of 18 on 3s and forced 18 turnovers.

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Maryland snaps two-game skid, control Minnesota at home

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USA Today Sports

Maryland snaps two-game skid, control Minnesota at home

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Kevin Huerter scored 19 points, Anthony Cowan Jr. had a career-high 10 assists and Maryland used a strong second half to beat cold-shooting Minnesota 77-66 Thursday night.

Michal Cekovsky delivered 10 of his 17 points during an 18-2 run that gave the Terrapins a 50-34 lead against the weary Golden Gophers, who could not summon the energy to make a comeback.

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Maryland (15-6, 4-4 Big Ten) snapped a two-game skid and improved to 12-1 at home. Cowan did his part by distributing the ball and scoring all 15 of his points over the final 12 minutes.

Jordan Murphy had 19 points and 14 rebounds for Minnesota, his nation-leading 19th double-double of the season. The Golden Gophers are in the middle of a stretch of three games over six days, concluding with a matchup against No. 22 Ohio State in New York on Saturday afternoon.

Minnesota (14-7, 3-5) finished 23 for 64 (36 percent) from the floor and made only three baskets in the opening 10 minutes of the second half.

The Golden Gophers led 32-29 before Huerter hit a 3-pointer to spark the decisive run. The 7-foot-1 Cekovsky followed with the first of his five dunks in a span of just over 5 minutes, most of them on alley-oop passes from his guards.

With Huerter leading the way, Maryland made 10 of its first 12 field-goal tries after halftime.

In the first half, the Terrapins trailed 16-10 before Huerter scored eight points in a 13-0 run. It was 29-21 before Minnesota rattled off seven straight points to end the half.

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BIG PICTURE

Minnesota: The Golden Gophers can be forgiven for their recent slump, given that they're missing two of their best players. But they can't afford to feel sorry for themselves if they want to survive this stretch that features one home game from Jan. 15 to Feb. 3.

Maryland: The Terrapins desperately needed this victory after losing three of four. Now at .500 in the conference after beating a depleted Minnesota squad, Maryland can regroup during a stretch in which it plays just one game over the next nine days.