Big defensive stop allows Maryland to escape Belmont, 79-77

Belmont 's Michael Benkert, left, makes a move to get around Maryland 's Aaron Wiggins during the first half of a first round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla. Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Belmont ‘s Michael Benkert, left, makes a move to get around Maryland ‘s Aaron Wiggins during the first half of a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla. Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) (AP/Stephen B. Morton)
Anthony Cowan Jr., Nick Hopkins
Maryland ‘s Anthony Cowan Jr. (1) goes up for a shot past Belmont ‘s Nick Hopkins (14) during the second half of a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (AP/John Raoux)
Maryland 's Serrel Smith Jr., center, passes the ball around Belmont 's Grayson Murphy (2) as Belmont head coach Rick Boyd stands back to avoid interference during the first half of a first round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Maryland ‘s Serrel Smith Jr., center, passes the ball around Belmont ‘s Grayson Murphy (2) as Belmont head coach Rick Boyd stands back to avoid interference during the first half of a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) (AP/Stephen B. Morton)
Anthony Cowan Jr., Kevin McClain
Maryland ‘s Anthony Cowan Jr. (1) fouls Belmont ‘s Kevin McClain who shoots during the second half of a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (AP/John Raoux)
Belmont 's Seth Adelsperger (50) goes up over Maryland 's Bruno Fernando (23) to shoot during the second half of the first round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Belmont ‘s Seth Adelsperger (50) goes up over Maryland ‘s Bruno Fernando (23) to shoot during the second half of the first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) (AP/Stephen B. Morton)
Maryland 's Bruno Fernando (23) passes the ball as he falls in front of Belmont's Michael Benkert (24) during the second half of the first round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Maryland ‘s Bruno Fernando (23) passes the ball as he falls in front of Belmont’s Michael Benkert (24) during the second half of the first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) (AP/Stephen B. Morton)
Belmont guard Dylan Windler reacts after missing a mid-court shot against Maryland as time expired in a first-round game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament in Jacksonville, Fla. Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Belmont guard Dylan Windler reacts after missing a mid-court shot against Maryland as time expired in a first-round game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament in Jacksonville, Fla. Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) (AP/Stephen B. Morton)
Ricky Lindo Jr., Travis Valmon
Maryland ‘s Ricky Lindo Jr. (14) and Travis Valmon walk off the court after defeating Belmont 79-77 in a first round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (AP/John Raoux)
Kevin McClain, Bruno Fernando
Belmont ‘s Kevin McClain (11) goes up for a shot over Maryland ‘s Bruno Fernando (23) during the first half of a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (AP/John Raoux)
Nick Muszynski, Bruno Fernando
Belmont ‘s Nick Muszynski (33) grabs a rebound in front of Maryland ‘s Bruno Fernando during the first half of a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (AP/John Raoux)
Darryl Morsell, Nick Muszynski
Maryland ‘s Darryl Morsell (11) attempts a shot as Belmont ‘s Nick Muszynski (33) defends during the first half of a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, in Jacksonville, Fla. Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (AP/John Raoux)
Seth Adelsperger, Bruno Fernando
Belmont ‘s Seth Adelsperger, left, looks to shoot against Maryland ‘s Bruno Fernando (23) during the first half of a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (AP/John Raoux)
Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon reacts as he watches his team on the court against Belmont during the first half of a first round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon reacts as he watches his team on the court against Belmont during the first half of a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) (AP/Stephen B. Morton)
Belmont head coach Rick Boyd watches his team on the court during the first half of a first round men's college basketball game against Maryland in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Belmont head coach Rick Boyd watches his team on the court during the first half of a first round men’s college basketball game against Maryland in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) (AP/Stephen B. Morton)
Aaron Wiggins, Kevin McClain
Belmont ‘s Kevin McClain (11) drives around Maryland ‘s Aaron Wiggins (2) during the first half of a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (AP/John Raoux)
Belmont 's Dylan Windler lies on the floor after diving for the ball during the first half of a first round men's college basketball game against Maryland in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Belmont ‘s Dylan Windler lies on the floor after diving for the ball during the first half of a first round men’s college basketball game against Maryland in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) (AP/Stephen B. Morton)
Maryland 's Darryl Morsell (11) goes up to shoot past Belmont 's Nick Muszynski during the first half of a first round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Maryland ‘s Darryl Morsell (11) goes up to shoot past Belmont ‘s Nick Muszynski during the first half of a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) (AP/Stephen B. Morton)
Grayson Murphy, Bruno Fernando
Belmont guard Grayson Murphy (2) gets off a shot ahead of Maryland ‘s Bruno Fernando (23) during the first half of a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (AP/John Raoux)
(1/19)
Belmont 's Michael Benkert, left, makes a move to get around Maryland 's Aaron Wiggins during the first half of a first round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla. Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Anthony Cowan Jr., Nick Hopkins
Maryland 's Serrel Smith Jr., center, passes the ball around Belmont 's Grayson Murphy (2) as Belmont head coach Rick Boyd stands back to avoid interference during the first half of a first round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Anthony Cowan Jr., Kevin McClain
Belmont 's Seth Adelsperger (50) goes up over Maryland 's Bruno Fernando (23) to shoot during the second half of the first round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Maryland 's Bruno Fernando (23) passes the ball as he falls in front of Belmont's Michael Benkert (24) during the second half of the first round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Belmont guard Dylan Windler reacts after missing a mid-court shot against Maryland as time expired in a first-round game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament in Jacksonville, Fla. Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Ricky Lindo Jr., Travis Valmon
Kevin McClain, Bruno Fernando
Nick Muszynski, Bruno Fernando
Darryl Morsell, Nick Muszynski
Seth Adelsperger, Bruno Fernando
Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon reacts as he watches his team on the court against Belmont during the first half of a first round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Belmont head coach Rick Boyd watches his team on the court during the first half of a first round men's college basketball game against Maryland in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Aaron Wiggins, Kevin McClain
Belmont 's Dylan Windler lies on the floor after diving for the ball during the first half of a first round men's college basketball game against Maryland in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Maryland 's Darryl Morsell (11) goes up to shoot past Belmont 's Nick Muszynski during the first half of a first round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Grayson Murphy, Bruno Fernando

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Belmont proved it belonged. Maryland is moving on.

The Terrapins survived a last-second upset at the NCAA Tournament when Eric Ayala deflected a pass, leading to a steal by Darryl Morsell that allowed Maryland to escape with a 79-77 victory in the East Region.

Playing their second tournament game in less than 48 hours, No. 11-seeded Belmont shook off weary legs to justify the selection committee giving them one of the final at-large bids.

Belmont took Maryland to the final seconds but the No. 6 Terrapins came up with the winning stop at the end.

“If not for one little deflection,” said Rick Byrd, Belmont’s 805-win coach, “I think we’d be playing Saturday afternoon.”

Instead, it was Maryland (23-10) advancing to face LSU in the second round following the thriller with Belmont.

“Is my heart rate like I’m sleeping? No!” Terrapins coach Mark Turgeon said. “I just love it. So much fun.”

Dylan Windler scored 35 points to give Belmont a chance, hitting seven 3-pointers with his Harden-like step back beyond the arc. .

“They’re almost impossible to guard,” Turgeon said, with plenty of admiration in his voice for the mid-major powerhouse from Nashville, Tennessee.

Maryland was clinging to a one-point lead and the shot clock was off as Belmont (26-6) went for a buzzer-beating win. The Bruins didn’t bother calling a timeout to set up a play; they knew what they wanted to do — a backdoor pass to Windler that had been one of their bread-and-butter calls all afternoon.

But Ayala got a hand on the pass from freshman Grayson Murphy and Morsell stepped in front of Windler to pick off the ball, the Belmont star tumbling to the court behind him. Morsell was fouled with 2.5 seconds to go, sending him to the other end of the court for a pair of free throws.

“Coaches were screaming, ‘Back door!'” Morsell said. “Eric got his hand on the ball.”

Morsell made the first free throw and missed the second, forcing Windler to heave a desperation shot from midcourt that didn’t come close to hitting the rim.

That set off a relieved celebration from the Maryland contingent.

Windler sank to the court, thoroughly exhausted after playing all but 88 seconds on the heels of a victory over Temple in a play-in game Tuesday — the first NCAA Tournament victory in Belmont history.

Jalen Smith led four Maryland players in double figures with 19 points, including a huge three-point play with 1:41 remaining. Belmont appeared to get a crucial stop when Nick Muszynski swatted away a shot by Bruno Fernando, setting off a wild scramble that left four players — three from Belmont, one from Maryland — sprawled on the floor.

Morsell came up with the loose ball and fed it to Smith under the basket for a thunderous dunk that also drew a foul. Smith knocked down the free throw, giving the Terps a 77-73 lead.

It held up.

Barely.

TALE OF TWO HALVES

Belmont led by as many as 12 points in the first half and went to the break with a 40-34 lead.

Maryland returned from the locker room intent on putting its size advantage to good use. The Terrapins began pounding the ball inside for easy baskets, or popping it back outside for open jumpers when the Bruins attempted to double-team the Maryland big men — and it resulted in a 14-0 run to start the half.

“We let them come out in the second half and run loose on us,” Byrd said.

BIG PICTURE

Belmont: The Bruins hung tough despite missing one of their top backups. Freshman forward Caleb Hollander remained at the team hotel in Jacksonville with an illness and the Bruins were without a player who averaged 7.0 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.

Backup center Seth Adelsperger, known as “Mountain Man,” gave the Bruins some huge minutes when Muszynski went to the bench with foul trouble. Not known as much of an offensive threat, Adelsperger rocked the rim with back-to-back dunks that sent the Belmont bench into a tizzy.

Maryland: This was the sort of test that should serve the Terps well in the next round. They displayed plenty of balance, scored on the inside and the perimeter, and made only five turnovers in an extremely well-played game by both teams. Belmont also had just five turnovers.

“We played really well to win this game,” Turgeon said.

UP NEXT

Belmont: Returns home to savor its first NCAA victory and a stellar season that included a triumph at UCLA and a 14-game winning streak.

Maryland: Will be looking to advance to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2016 when it faces LSU.

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paul%20newberry

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More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/MarchMadness and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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