Maryland Crowned Paradise Jam Champion

Maryland Athletics
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St. Thomas/U.S. Virgin Islands -- Junior Dez Wells had 13 points and connected on a floating jumper with a little more than a minute remaining as Maryland held on to a 56-52 win over Providence Monday en route to capturing the 2013 U.S Virgin Islands Paradise Jam Basketball Tournament at the UVI Sports & Fitness Center.

The Terps won their 29th regular season championship and their first since 2006, concluding their visit with wins over Marist, Northern Iowa  and Providence.

Wells, who earned tournament MVP honors as he averaged 12.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists, made the aforementioned floating jumper, connected on a pair of free throws and had the basketball in his hands during each crucial possession down the stretch for the Terps.

“Dez made some big buckets,” junior forward Evan Smotrycz said. “We were struggling to hold on, but Dez made some timely buckets to lead us to the win.”

Maryland had a 33-21 halftime lead as they limited Providence to just 23.3 percent shooting from the field.  The Terps built their largest lead to 19, when junior guard Varun Ram connected on a three-point shot and Maryland led 44-20 with 12:02 remaining.

But Providence, who rallied to beat Vanderbilt in the opening round after trailing by 16 points, methodically mounted a comeback with its own 20-4 run to cut the deficit to three, 48-45, with 4:46 remaining.

But a free throw by Smotrcyz, a layup by forward Charles Mitchell on a nice pass from Smotrcyz and the key basket by Wells lifted the Terps to their third win in four days.

“This championship is great for our program,” Turgeon said. “This is a big feather in the cap for our program.  We beat two really good teams on two consecutive nights and we were really focused and determined.  What a difference a week makes.  I’m really proud of how we responded, especially on the defensive end after the tough loss against Oregon State last Sunday. I am really proud of our guys.”

Notes: Smotrycz was named to the Paradise Jam All-Tournament team … The junior forward averaged 12.3 points and seven rounds in the three-game tournament and matched his career high with 11 rebounds against the Friars … Smotrcyz also added his fourth career double-double with his 13-point and 11-rebound effort against Providence … The Terps held the Friars to 27.1 percent shooting after Providence entered the game shooting 43.4 percent from the floor … Maryland’s last regular season championship was at the 2K Sports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in 2006.