COLLEGE PARK, Md. — As the final horn sounded and Maryland fans rushed the court to celebrate a rare victory over its bitter rival, weary Duke had just enough energy left to escape the mayhem for the safety of its locker room.
Seth Allen broke a tie by making two free throws with 2.8 seconds left, and the Terrapins stunned the second-ranked Blue Devils 83-81 on Saturday to end a six-game skid in the series.
Coming off a five-day break, Maryland notched its most significant win of the season at the expense of a tired Duke playing its fourth game in 10 days.
The Blue Devils were worn out, and it showed.
Duke was outrebounded 40-20, never led in the second half and got only four points and three rebounds by 6-foot-10-inch senior center Mason Plumlee.
“This has been an exhausting schedule for our team,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We’re playing on fumes, and I think you could tell that with Mason. I thought he looked exhausted the whole game. He’s been great. Obviously not good tonight.”
The Terrapins (18-7, 6-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) did not trail after halftime but never could pull away.
Duke (22-3, 9-3) trailed by 10 with 3:39 left but pulled even when Rasheed Sulaimon hit three free throws with 16.7 seconds to go. Quinn Cook then fouled Allen as the freshman guard drove through the lane, and Allen made both shots.
After a Duke timeout, Cook’s desperation 30-footer bounced off the back rim. Chaos ensued as the fans rushed the court.
“I thought it was in when I got it off,” Cook said.
Alex Len had 19 points and nine rebounds for Maryland, and Allen scored 16. The Terrapins had lost 12 of 13 against Duke, including a 20-point embarrassment last month.
“I told our players before the game, there’s a lot of pride in Maryland basketball,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “There’s also a lot of passion about Maryland basketball. We talked about playing with those two things for us and for our fans. Our fans were just tremendous.”
From the end of the Star Spangled Banner to the final buzzer, the crowd never stopped shouting for the Terps, who rewarded their fans with a memorable victory in a rivalry that appears destined to end when Maryland leaves for the Big Ten in 2014.
“I have a great deal of respect for Maryland,” Krzyzewski said. “If it was such a rivalry, they’d still be in the ACC. Obviously they don’t think it’s that important or else they wouldn’t be in the Big Ten.”
Oh, but it’s very important to Maryland and its coach.
“This win was for my family and the fans,” Turgeon said. “I know what this win means for our fan base, and I really wanted to beat Duke.”