Terps Advance to Paradise Jam Finals

Maryland Athletics
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St. Thomas/U.S. Virgin Islands -- Junior forward Evan Smotrycz matched his career high with 20 points as Maryland (4-2) had four players in double figures en route to an 80-66 win over Northern Iowa Sunday in the semifinals of the Paradise Jam tournament at the Sports & Fitness Center.

Maryland will face Providence (6-0) in the finals Monday evening at 10:00 p.m. EST.

Sophomore Jake Layman (19) and junior Nick Faust (17) tied their season high in points, respectively, and junior Dez Wells added 16 points as the Terps connected on 48 percent of their field goal attempts.

The Terps authored their most complete second half of the season with nine assists to just two turnovers, while Wells, who started at point guard, matched his season high with six assists - all coming in the second half. Overall, Maryland held Northern Iowa to 38.6 percent shooting and 24 percent from the three-point range, significantly below its season average of 45 and 38 percent, respectively.

"I was really, really proud of our group," Turgeon said. "We talked about not letting them beat us from the three-point line. They had some open looks that they normally make, but I think we wore them down with our defensive pressure."

The pressure started in the first half as Maryland had a 33-30 lead and held Northern Iowa to 3-for-14 from the three-point range.  Considering the Panthers connected on 10-of-14 three-point attempts in the opening round win against Loyola Marymount, that stingy defensive performance helped set the tone for the Terps.

"I like how we finished strong in the first half and we were able to build upon that in the second half," Smotrycyz said. "We played well defensively, did a good job rebounding and played sound perimeter defense."

Smotrycz, who was inserted back in the starting lineup after coming off the bench against Marist on Friday night, made a layup and consecutive three-pointers to lift Maryland to a 55-46 lead with 11:13 remaining in the second half.

The Panthers fought their way back and pulled within five at 69-64 with 2:15 remaining in the contest after Seth Tuttle tipped in a missed shot by Deon Mitchell.  The Terps, however, answered with an 11-2 run behind a Wells layup and a Layman three-pointer to propel them to their first final appearance in a regular season tournament since 2006 (2K Sports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic).

Notes:  Turgeon shared that it was Faust's best overall game as a Terp ... In addition to Faust's 17 points, the junior from Baltimore added six rebounds and made 4-of-5 from the free throw line ... The Terps posted a season-high 47 points in the second half ... The last time Maryland appeared in a regular season tournament final was in 2006 ... Maryland defeated Michigan State, 62-60, and was crowned the champions in the 2K Sports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic...The Terps face Providence in the finals ... Maryland has a 1-1 all-time record against Providence, last facing the Friars in 1991.