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Terps turnovers hand St. Bonaventure a 63-61 win in Emerald Coast Classic

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Terps turnovers hand St. Bonaventure a 63-61 win in Emerald Coast Classic

NICEVILLE, Fla. -- St. Bonaventure played without its top returning scorer, couldn't hit a three-point shot all night and was on the short end in most other statistical categories, yet the Bonnies somehow managed to beat a bigger, stronger Maryland team.

After his team trailed most of the night, Courtney Stockard hit a driving layup in the closing seconds to give St. Bonaventure a 63-61 win over Maryland on Friday in the semi-finals of the Emerald Coast Classic.

"I thought our guys out-scrapped, out-worked (Maryland)," said St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt. "It was a blue collar approach. . We are not going to out-talent guys. We have a chance to out-work guys. That's what we did."

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon didn't argue with that analysis.

"They played hard from the beginning," Turgeon said. "We tried like crazy to get control of the game. It took us about 10 minutes to finally get going. . In the end our defense let us down. We gave them too many opportunities to get to the basket during their run. We didn't make them shoot jumpers."

St. Bonaventure (3-1) will meet Texas Christian (5-0) for the tournament title Saturday at Northwest Florida State College.

Matt Mobley led the Bonnies with 16 points while Stockard had 14. Josh Ayeni added 11. Anthony Cowan was the only Terp to score in double figures with 13.

The two teams battled back and forth all night ringing up 11 ties and eight lead changes. Maryland (5-1) held the lead most of the game, 25:42 to 5:55 for St. Bonaventure, but the Bonnies had it when it counted.

They came back from an eight-point second-half deficit to pull into a tie and then Stockard made the winning basket with 3.2 seconds left. Maryland was unable to get off a shot in the remaining time.

"I got the screen," Stockard said. "I was just thinking attack. I found a lane and took it."

The Bonnies again were without senior guard Jaylen Adams, their top returning scorer. Adams who averaged 20.6 points last season, has missed all four regular season games so far after spraining an ankle in an exhibition game.

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An injury riddled season may prepare the Terps for a historic future

An injury riddled season may prepare the Terps for a historic future

Injuries are the tale of the 2017-18 season for the Maryland Terrapins.

A season that was supposed to signify the post-Melo Trimble era in College Park quickly became derailed after the loss of Naismith Trophy contender Justin Jackson and his backup Ivan Bender.

Short-term, these injuries have set Maryland back this season, so much that they are on the bubble of making the NCAA Tournament. Even if they do happen to miss the tournament for the first time since 2014, it is not all doom and gloom for Maryland. The way these injuries have sprouted up could propel the Terps back to the national stage a year from now. A stage higher than the program saw during the Trimble era.

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Back in December, it was an all too familiar sight for the Terps under head coach Mark Turgeon. The Terps announced that Jackson (9.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg) would miss the rest of the season due to a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Merely three days later it was announced Bender (4.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg) was going to miss the season too with a torn meniscus.

With these two added to the list, it marked the eighth significant injury for the Terps since Turgeon took over in 2011-12 according to Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun.

Losing Jackson and Bender further dug a hole that Maryland was in at the start of the year. Opening the season with only 11 scholarship players, two less than the NCAA maximum, there was no depth concern in the Maryland camp given the quality of players they had. Now having only 11 or 12 scholarship players is not too uncommon in college hoops. In reality, only eight or nine players see significant time in a Division I rotation.

But Jackson was a starter and if not considered the best on the roster, he was at least their No. 2 guy. Paired with the loss of Bender, the most experienced forward on the roster was then a redshirt-freshman Joshua Tomaic.

In all likely-hood, the 2017-18 season was going to be the last season for Jackson in College Park. A season ago he declared his eligibility for the 2017 NBA draft but returned to the program after not signing with an agent. His flirtation with taking the next step gave the indication that with a solid-to-stellar season, Jackson was going to be an easy choice as a first-round draft pick in 2018.

Now with an injury after 11 games, going to the 2018 draft may not be the best option for the 6-foot-7 Canadian. The return to College Park may be imminent.

A good sign for the 2018-19 Terps.

Stepping up into the empty four spot in the starting line-up was the four-star freshman Bruno Fernando. Before the loss of Jackson and Bender, he was averaging 19.5 minutes and bringing in 10 points a contest. Now he is up to 24 minutes a game, and although spotty, scoring 10.4 ppg. The 6-10 ball of energy has displayed a wealth of skill to go along with his uncanny talent and is now a certified NBA Draft prospect. 

He has been fortuned more time to develop, which has been evident of late. He is fiery, a fan-favorite, and can be groomed to fill Michal Cekovsky’s (one of three players that will leave the program this year) spot in the post. Defensively Fernando has a team-high 26 blocks.

There is also more court time for the other healthy forward, Tomaic which would give Maryland four formidable forwards entering next year. If Fernando stays, and that is a big if, Maryland will start to look like an embarrassment of riches.

A good sign for the 2018-19 Terps.

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One slight disappointment this year, has been sophomore Kevin Huerter. With the loss of Jackson, he had to step up to be the other ball handler besides Anthony Cowan Jr. Although still with some of the best shooting numbers on the team (50.5 percent FG, 45.5 percent three-point range), his handling has been exposed.

As a freshman, he was known as a 6-7 spot up shooter. Now he forced to generate his own shot as the No. 2 guy behind Cowan, sometimes going for a little too much. He has to learn to initiate the offense, giving the team more options in a full ranged offense.

A good sign for the 2018-19 Terps.

Dion Wiley is seeing double the minutes he did last season after his knee injury in 2015. This is despite reoccurring concussion issues he’s been battling this year. It is by far his best season in every statistical category, shaping up to be the preferred bench guard next year.

A good sign for the 2018-19 Terps.

Another freshman Darryl Morsell is getting more time at the guard position with a limited rotation. Believe it or not, he may be the best freshman, over Fernando. 

A good sign for the 2018-19 Terps.

If everyone is healthy and Jackson and Fernando stay, it could be the most dynamic starting five in the Big Ten. Purdue is going to be losing four senior starters after this season. Ohio State will lose three starters if Keita Bates-Diop chooses to go to the NBA. Michgan's roster will be up in the air and while Michigan State will still be one of the top teams, they will be losing Miles Bridges to the NBA Draft at the end of this season.

A good sign for the 2018-19 Terps.

The projected line-up next season in College Park will be something like this: Anthony Cowan Jr., Kevin Huerter, Darryl Morsell, Justin Jackson, and Bruno Fernando. The bench will have Dion Wiley, Ivan Bender, and Joshua Tomaic. It will be a dynamic, electric, and flexible group that can play big or small.

None of this even mentions the two four-star recruits and a five-star that Maryland has coming into the program, with more open scholarships available to use, like five-star center Moses Brown. Additionally, there is a McDonald's All-American selection, Jalen Smith, that many recruiting experts pin Maryland as his primary choice.

At the time of this writing, the Terps are 14-6 (3-4 Big Ten) this year and by no means is the season over. The talent on this team is capable of going on a run and getting into the NCAA Tournament and from there we have seen crazier things happen. It would be foolish though to say they are not running out of time.

If that push is not there at the end of the year, there is still the NIT, which will give the young team more time together.

But with the roster currently assembled, with everyone healthy in 2018-19, it is hard not to see this team as a favorite for the Sweet 16 a year from now. With the quality of top recruits they continue to bring in, there is no question they will be in the national championship conversation.

And that projection is being modest.

MORE TERPS: FORMER MARYLAND WR, DIGGS MAKES HISTORY

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Former Terp Stefon Diggs plays hero in Vikings' miracle playoff win

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Former Terp Stefon Diggs plays hero in Vikings' miracle playoff win

MINNEAPOLIS -- There wasn't much left for Case Keenum to do but to fling the ball deep and hope for a miracle.

Miracle answered.

Keenum completed a last-ditch heave near the sideline Sunday on the game's final play, and Stefon Diggs slithered away for a 61-yard touchdown to give Minnesota a 29-24 victory over New Orleans and send the Vikings to the NFC championship game, with one more win needed to become a first-time Super Bowl host.

Drew Brees had driven the Saints in position for Wil Lutz's go-ahead 43-yard field goal with 25 seconds remaining, punctuating a steely rally from a 17-point deficit that stood until 1:16 was left in the third quarter.

The Vikings were out of timeouts and nearly out of options when Keenum dropped back with 10 seconds to go from his 39 and threw high into a crowd. Diggs jumped in front of Marcus Williams, who rolled awkwardly underneath Diggs during an ill-fated attempt at a tackle.

Diggs held his ground, kept his feet in bounds and raced untouched into the end zone as the crowd at U.S. Bank Stadium erupted.

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"I'm just thankful," Diggs said. "They count us out all the time. Nobody thinking we can do it. This game was over. I don't stop playing till the clock hit zero. That's it."

This wasn't quite Franco Harris and the Immaculate Reception for Pittsburgh in the 1972 playoffs, but these Vikings are on some kind of special path. They finished 13-3 during the regular season, giving the career backup Keenum the keys to the offense after Sam Bradford went down with a knee injury after the opener.

The Vikings will play at Philadelphia next weekend, after Jacksonville takes on New England for the AFC title. The Super Bowl is in Minnesota two weeks later.

"A heck of a game, wasn't it?" coach Mike Zimmer said. "And the good guys won."

Now the Vikings have spun an unprecedented scenario in NFL history. Next weekend, instead of the usual win-or-go-home stakes, they're in a win-and-go-home situation with the Super Bowl set for Feb. 4 under the reverberating translucent roof of U.S. Bank Stadium.

Though only defensive end Brian Robison remains from the 2009 team that lost in overtime of the NFC championship game at New Orleans, the Vikings exacted some revenge on Brees and the Saints, at least for their long-frustrated fans.

They put them through quite the emotional finish to complete it.

Brees connected with Michael Thomas for two of his three touchdown passes in a span of 3:09 of the second half. The first score came after a 12-play, 80-yard drive. The second was set up at the Minnesota 40 by an interception by Williams after an off-balance throw by Keenum, his one costly moment of either inexperience or recklessness.

When George Johnson blocked Ryan Quigley's punt, the Saints took over at the Vikings 40. Four plays later, rookie Alvin Kamara, whose breakout was a major factor in the team's NFC South title and breakthrough from three straight 7-9 finishes, caught a 14-yard pass from Brees for a 21-20 lead with 3:01 left.

Forbath's 53-yard field goal, his third make of the evening against his former team, gave the Vikings their lead back with 1:29 left. That was more than enough time for Brees, the sure-bet Hall of Famer with a Super Bowl ring and all kinds of records.

But after Brees got Lutz in position, there were just enough seconds remaining for Keenum -- the undrafted and undersized all-time leading passer in NCAA history at Houston whose first career playoff start ended in spectacular fashion. He finished with 318 yards, going 25 for 40, with Diggs catching 137 yards on six catches.

"This will take a while to get over," said Payton, who fell to 1-5 on the road in playoff games.

Brees saw his 13th career postseason game end in a crushing final moment, his 25-for-40 performance for 294 yards tainted a bit by two interceptions before halftime. One came on a leaping grab by safety Andrew Sendejo, the other off a tip by Everson Griffen that landed in Anthony Barr's arms at the Minnesota 10-yard line midway through the third quarter.