MORGANTOWN — Maryland got the final run and then survived a 28-foot shot at the buzzer by Kedrian Johnson to walk out of the first round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday with a 67-65 victory against West Virginia.
Along the way, the Terrapins (22-12) survived a bitter-cold start inside Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Ala., and then erased an eight-point deficit midway in the second half to advance to Saturday’s Round of 32.
The flip side to that was the Mountaineers’ inability to capitalize on great opportunities.
WVU (19-15) began the game on a 19-6 run that saw Maryland go nearly nine minutes between baskets.
“You know, we have been down all year at certain points in the game,” Maryland head coach Kevin Willard said. “They have never turned on each other. They just have a great attitude.”
Once the Terrapins got going, though, they came all the way back to take a 32-30 lead at the half.
Maryland extended that lead to 38-31, but then it was Johnson who became a scoring machine.
Finishing with a career-high 27 points, Johnson scored 10 of those in the span of 84 seconds with two and-one three-point plays and then a 3-pointer that turned into a four-point play when Johnson was fouled.
“I just took what the defense gave to me,” Johnson said. “Teams normally play me for the drive. They were going under the screen, so I stepped back and shot it. When they popped out, I drove the ball.”
Now, it was the Mountaineers’ turn to go on a run.
Seth Wilson came off the bench to score a 3-pointer, Johnson added one more from behind the arc and Tre Mitchell powered his way to a bank shot in the paint that gave WVU a 51-43 advantage with 11:28 remaining.
“We started off both halves swinging the ball and then we didn’t swing the ball anymore,” said WVU forward Emmitt Matthews Jr., who suffered a shoulder injury early in the second half of his final collegiate game, but returned to play late. “You can’t win playing one-on-four, one-on-five.”
Marland sophomore forward Julian Reese — he finished with 17 points and nine rebounds — made his largest impact in the final 12 minutes.
The 6-foot-9 Baltimore native scored 10 points in the final 12:07, while adding a critical blocked shot of Patrick Suemnick with 1:16 remaining and then had a crucial assist to teammate Hakim Hart in what may have been the play of the game.
A loose ball in front of Maryland’s bench turned into a tip drill.
Suemnick had a shot at it, then WVU guard Erik Stevenson, but somehow Reese got control of it and he found Hart all alone under the basket for a dunk.
The play broke a 59-59 tie with 3:41 remaining and Maryland never gave up the lead again.
WVU did cut the lead, 66-65, when Mitchell scored in the paint with 8.4 seconds left.
Mitchell then fouled Maryland’s Jahmir Young with 4.7 seconds remaining. Young made his first free-throw attempt for the final score, but missed the second one.
Mitchell grabbed the rebound and flipped the ball to Johnson, who raced up the court and got off a long runner that came off inches to the left.
“He was terrific. He was absolutely terrific,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said of Johnson. “Without him we wouldn’t been able to stay in the game. The last shot, it looked to me like it grazed the end of the rim. He’s an inch away from winning the game for us.”
Mitchell added 13 points and six rebounds for the Mountaineers, who were held to just 39% shooting (22 of 56).
Meanwhile, Maryland shot 51% (23 of 45) and had four players score in double figures led by Reese.