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December 12, 2013

Wells torches BC as Terps hang on

Despite opening ACC play on the road, the Terps really couldn't have asked for a better matchup than Boston College on Thursday night after two straight tough losses. The slumping Maryland offense caught fire early and stayed sharp enough to top the Eagles in Boston, 88-80, to start their last season in the ACC off on the right note.

In his never-ending quest to solve his team's point guard issues, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon inserted Roddy Peters back into the starting lineup for the third time. For one night, Turgeon's adjustment worked wonders.

Peters was rock solid, racking up 14 points and three assists and most important, playing the position competently enough to free up star guard Dez Wells to do what he does best. Wells exploded for a career-high 33 points on Thursday night. He scored 22 of Maryland's 46 points in the second half. BC took their first lead of the game with about 10 minutes left. Wells singlehandedly took it back.

He bulled his way to five 'and-ones' and pushed the pace on the fast break, continuously beating Eagles defenders down the floor. He was efficient, shooting 12-for-18, and he got to the free throw line 11 times, knocking down eight. His kicked in five rebounds and only turned the ball over twice, which was a part of his game he's struggled with all season.

The offensive breakout for the Terps was nice to see, but it was also somewhat expected. Any way you slice it, the Eagles (3-7) have been one of the worst defensive teams in the country this season. They rank 319th in scoring defense and 265th in defensive efficiency. They average more rebounds per night than exactly 10 teams in Division I basketball and they don't force turnovers, something that has hampered the Terps all season.

Maryland only gave the ball away 11 times on Thursday. They had merely six assists as a team but to be fair, passing wasn't critical with how open the Eagles left the paint. The Terps shot an incredible 55.2 percent from the field and drained eight treys, five of which came in the game's first eight minutes as the Terps took an early 12-point lead.

There was less to celebrate on defense for Maryland, but Boston College is an efficient offensive team. The Terps shut down the Eagles early, but the triples inevitably started to fall and BC climbed back into the game. The Eagles entered the game as the best free throw shooting team in the nation, an asset that was on full display Thursday as they knocked down 22-of-27 from the line. They also hung tough with the Terps on the boards, only being outrebounded 31 to 28.

Gaithersburg native Garland Owens was a revelation for the Eagles on Thursday. Entering the night averaging less than three points per game, the freshman scored a career high 16, shooting 6-for-8 on the night and hitting four threes. Star point guard Olivier Hanlan had 26 points and eight assists for BC, draining 15-of-16 from the line, many of which came lane as the Eagles tried to stay close.

Maryland, now 1-0 in ACC play, returns home to play Florida Atlantic at the Comcast Center on Saturday.

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