Valparaiso battled with Maryland but was bitten by a no-call on the game’s final play, falling 65-62 to the Terrapins.
“I am obviously not a referee, senior forward Vashil Fernandez said, “but it was pretty clear that he fouled (guard Keith Carter). It was a tough way for me to end my career.”
Carter had the ball in the final seconds and dribbled to the baseline. With time about to expire, he pulled up to shoot, and was hit on the arm by Maryland’s Varum Ram, who had just checked into the game for defense, while in the act of shooting.
The officials did not call a foul, although replay clearly showed contact. The buzzer sounded and, instead of Carter having three free throws with a chance to force a tie, the game was over.
“I am very proud of our team,” coach Bryce Drew said. “There were tears in the locker room, because this team is so close. We have a great group of kids, great group of human beings and it was a pleasure to be around them.”
It was very difficult for Valparaiso to get into the paint against Maryland. Fernandez finished his final game as a Crusader with 6 points and 6 rebounds against a very tough Terrapins team.
The Crusaders finished with only 14 points in the paint due to the athleticism of Maryland.
“It was really hard to get any shots inside, so we would drive and dish,” said freshman guard Tevonn Walker, who posted 14 points for the Crusaders. “We shot a lot of threes, because that is what they were giving us.”
Valpo shot 27 3-pointers and hit 12 of them.
“Three point shots kept us in the game,” Drew said. ” I thought Tevonn and (forward) Alec (Peters) played tremendous tonight,”
Although the Crusaders were on fire from beyond the arc, they missed 8 free throws, were out-rebound by four boards and only shot 36 percent from the field.
Despite all this, they still had a chance to tie the game with 13.7 seconds to go.
Drew dialed up a play to get the ball to Peters, the team’s leading scorer. Peters had scored 18 points and made 4 treys in the game.
However, the Terrapins played it well, which lead to Carter take that final 3-pointer from the corner.
“That play was on me,” Drew said. “We ran a play that was a little different than what we usually use, but they read it well. It was a good defensive play.”
Although the Crusaders lost in heartbreaking fashion, there were a few bright spots. Peters scored his 1,000-career point.
“We knew that any team that we play in this tournament was going to be good,” Drew said. “Maryland is one of the better teams in the country. We are going to miss being with each other at practice and on the road games.”