For Darryl Morsell, Sunday’s game was just like any other. Much as he has in his four years in College Park, the Maryland men’s basketball guard bared his soul on the Xfinity Center floor, making defensive stands, gritting out points, yelling instructions and encouragement to his teammates.
And for 36 minutes, that was enough. Coach Mark Turgeon’s squad rolled, up double digits for most of the night. But when it mattered most, it was Penn State forward Seth Lundy who shined brightest.
Lundy scored 31 points, 11 of which came in the game’s final four minutes. And it was Lundy’s performance that powered the Nittany Lions to a stunning 66-61 comeback win, spoiling the Terps’ senior night.
“You have losses in life that are devastating, and this is one of them,” Turgeon said.
Yet, for the third straight game, Maryland (15-12, 9-11 Big Ten) was sterling off the tip. And Morsell contributed on both ends during the 12-0 run.
He closed quickly on Penn State’s outside shooters, forcing passes or tough-angle shots that ended up in the arms of Morsell’s teammates. The Terps pushed the other way, Aaron Wiggins chipping in the first five points of the spurt. Morsell made his mark on the scoresheet, too, blocking a Lundy attempted jumper and taking it the other way for a stepback swish.
But the hot streak wore off. Lundy responded with the Nittany Lions’ first 11 points, closing the gap to five at one point as Maryland began to pile up the turnovers. Though that lack of care with the ball was more of an issue for the Terps in Wednesday’s loss to Northwestern, they still gave it away 13 times to Penn State (10-13, 7-12).
“Gotta be better with our decision-making,” Wiggins said. “We can’t always try to make the home runs, gotta make the simple plays.”
And when Maryland held on to the rock, it translated to better offense. Morsell found Hakim Hart soaring through the air for the alley-oop. Morsell himself then crashed the glass on the next possession, following his own miss with a scoop shot to push the Terps’ edge to 13.
Morsell wasn’t the only senior to join the action. Galin Smith hit a hook shot under the basket to break Lundy’s run. Two minutes later, he did it again, sparking a 9-2 Maryland run.
And Reese Mona, the scout team walk-on turned rotational defensive player, scrapped in his limited minutes of action. He forced Izaiah Brockington to throw the ball away, taking it down the floor and hoisting an attempted three that nearly cashed.
“They give us their all,” forward Donta Scott said.
But Morsell commanded the most attention, leading all Terps with 10 points at the break. Even as the game slowed down in the second half due to a rash of fouls, the senior stayed composed. And at least for a stretch, he got some help.
After the Nittany Lions brought the contest within three, Wiggins smoothly swished his shot from deep to keep his side in front. He finished with a team-high 15 points and 10 rebounds for his fifth double-double on the season.
Jairus Hamilton followed up with a block on John Harrar’s layup attempt, taking a hard foul to the chin in the process. Scott then cashed two threes, including one off a rolling pass from a skidding Morsell, to push the lead to 14.
But Penn State clawed back, led by Lundy. First, Myles Dread sank his only points of the night, dropping one in from beyond the arc. Then, a run of six free throws helped the Nittany Lions close the gap back to three. Even as Maryland briefly extended its edge to six, Penn State never wavered.
“You can see the momentum switching, and you can see the whole flow of the game kind of changing,” Wiggins said.
Then, a Lundy snipe.
He fired a three-pointer to bring the Nittany Lions within one possession, and that was all the momentum his team needed. After Morsell clanked a three, Harrar nailed two free throws. Next, it was Wiggins who missed from behind the arc — giving Lundy the chance to complete a Penn State comeback.
He hit a close-range runner for the lead, one the Nittany Lions never relinquished. Then, Lundy hit the dagger, a wide-open three to send his squad up two possessions with 32 seconds left.
“Lundy was terrific, out-of-his-mind terrific,” Turgeon said.
All the while, Maryland couldn’t hit. Scott missed two shots from behind the arc. Ayala misfired on a contested jumper.
So, on Maryland’s senior night, it was a sophomore who shined. Lundy was steady all night — and electric down the stretch — sending the Terps’ seniors home empty-handed in their last showing on the Xfinity Center floor.
“It hurts. Senior night, you’re supposed to send the seniors out on a good note,” Wiggins said. “Just didn’t finish the game.”