Jahvon Quinerly starring in an NCAA tournament contest while Kevin Willard was on the sidelines is probably something the Maryland coach had long envisioned.
The fact the guard was doing it for his opponent probably wasn’t. Willard recruited Quinerly heavily while still at Seton Hall, offering the guard a scholarship when he was just a freshman in high school.
But Quinerly ended up at Alabama after a short stint with Villanova and torched Maryland Saturday, dropping a game-high 22 points to help end the Terps’ season in the tournament’s second round for the second time in three years.
Quinerly had 14 points and 11 assists in the Crimson Tide’s victory over the Terps in 2021. Maryland is the only team he has beaten twice in the NCAA tournament.
“I’ve watched [Quinerly] every second of the way. I’ve probably watched more high school games of Jahvon Quinerly than I have anybody else,” Willard said.
The guard supplied an early jumper and scored half of the Crimson Tide’s points in the opening 10 minutes of the game. Quinerly found success at the rim against a smaller Terps team that was without Julian Reese for much of the game due to foul trouble. Four of the 6-foot-1 guard’s buckets came on layups.
His quick drive to the basket straight out of halftime set the tone for Alabama’s 45-point second half. Quinerly’s squad pulled away from Maryland and eventually won by 22 largely due to his late contributions.
The guard got hot from deep in the waning minutes of the matchup. He hit a stepback corner three before ending any far-fetched dream of a Maryland comeback with a pair of daggers — back-to-back triples from the left wing that extended Alabama’s lead to 20 with just over three minutes to go.
After the second, a deep pull-up over Donta Scott, Quinerly turned to the fans and smirked as he jogged back on defense. He finished 9-for-14 from the field and made four of his six three-point attempts.
“He’s got the swagger that he had in high school back,” Willard said. “To be perfectly honest, he killed us tonight, but I’m really happy for Jahvon Quinerly. He’s a terrific young man … To see him blossom into this player, I’m proud of him, I really am.”
Quinerly praised the Terps and Willard for their performance after the game; the Maryland deficit was just five at halftime.
“[Willard] recruited me coming out of high school. I’m really familiar with him. And you know, they just — they had a different style,” Quinerly said. “… They played a little bit slower than they did two years ago, and they really value possessions. That’s a really good team over there.”
Maryland’s hardly been the only victim of Quinerly’s electric play. Many teams have seen their season end due to the performance of a player who’s excelled in March throughout his collegiate career.
The Terps just had the unique misfortune of having that happen to them twice.