BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — WVU’s return trip to the Big Dance ended about as quickly as it started.
Despite a career-high 27 points from fifth year guard Kedrian Johnson, the ninth-seeded Mountaineers fell to eighth-seeded Maryland 67-65 at Legacy Arena, marking the end of their season.
WVU squandered a terrific defensive performance in the first half on the road to an early tournament exit. The Mountaineers also recorded runs of 14-0 and 16-0 in the game, but allowed the Terrapins to claw those points back each time.
Maryland was held without a field goal for more than nine minutes in the first half. During that stretch, West Virginia went on a 17-2 run that included a spurt of 14 unanswered points.
But then, head coach Bob Huggins had to dig into his bench due to foul trouble, and around that time, the Terps figured things out. They quickly rattled off a 16-2 run to take a momentary 22-21 lead with 6:09 left in the first half.
Maryland held a 32-30 edge at halftime.
But early in the second half, Kedrian Johnson scored 10 unanswered points on his own, with each of his three buckets during that stretch resulting in an and-one. The fifth-year guard also nailed a straight-away 3-pointer with 15:04 remaining, capping a 16-0 WVU run and allowing the Mountaineers to snatch a 47-38 lead.
Maryland would retake the lead momentarily after the 10-minute mark. The lead would shift back and forth from there.
But after an Erik Stevenson field goal gave WVU a 59-56 cushion with 5:45 left, the Mountaineers would play the next 3:30 without scoring a point. The Terps took advantage of that cold snap, scoring eight unanswered points to regain an advantage.
The Mountaineers never led again, but they did have a chance to win on the game’s final possession.
A Tre Mitchell layup with 8.4 seconds remaining cut the score to 66-65. After Maryland’s Jahmir Young went 1-2 from the line, Johnson had an opportunity for a deep buzzer-beater to win the game, but his attempt smacked off the front of the rim.
Johnson netted his career-high 27 points by going 8-for-13 from the field and 7-for-7 from the foul line.
UMD was led in scoring by Juju Reese (17 points) and Hakim Hart (15). Young, the team’s leader in scoring average this season, was limited by foul trouble and collected just 10 points.
The contest marked the 39th all-time meeting between the Mountaineers and Terrapins. The victory for Maryland snaps a three-game losing streak against WVU.
Additionally, the Terps have earned just their second win over WVU in eight attempts at a neutral venue. Their previous neutral court win in the series also came in Birmingham during the 1984 NCAA Tournament.
Since the program’s most recent run to the Sweet 16 in 2018, WVU has qualified for the NCAA Tournament twice, winning just one game during those trips. The 2020 national tournament was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
WVU concludes the 2022-23 campaign with a 19-15 overall record. Meanwhile, Maryland advances to the second round to face either top-seed Alabama or No. 16-seed Howard.