With 1:19 left and the Terps up 18 points head coach Kevin Willard pulled all five seniors off the court giving the crowd a chance to thank the five players one last time on Maryland’s home court. As the players exited they stopped to hug Willard before hugging and shaking hands with the rest of the coaching staff and their teammates.
Sunday marked Maryland men’s basketball (20-9, B1G 11-7) last home game of the 2022-2023 season and the Terps sent their seniors out on a high note taking down No. 21 Northwestern (20-9, B1G 11-7), 75-59.
Two players, forward Donta Scott and guard Hakim Hart have spent their entire four-year careers with the program while the other three, guard Jahmir Young and Don Carey and forward Patrick Emilien transferred into the program this year and made an immediate impact.
Scott and Hart were each members of the 2019-2020 team that won the Big Ten Regular Season Championship, the program’s first.
All the players received a standing ovation from the sell-out crowd during the ceremony, a heartwarming moment for a team and program that is reestablishing itself under first-year head coach Kevin Willard.
The seniors finished off their time at Xfinity Center with a masterful performance upsetting the 21st-ranked Wildcats 75-59 after shooting 63.6% from beyond the arc.
While at Seton Hall, Senior Day was typically a very emotional day for Willard but before the game, he had a different message for his team.
“I’d never had fun on Senior Night, I’m an emotional wreck and that goes off onto my players,” Willard said. “So the only thing I told them was that I just wanted them to have fun since today is the last chance they’re going to be in the building.”
The former DeMatha player and Charlotte transfer was the heart and soul of Maryland’s offense all season. Young always dreamed of playing at Maryland, a place he attended games while growing up.
The former DeMatha player was the program’s first player who played at the basketball powerhouse located just over three miles away from the Xfinity Center to play for Maryland in 20 years.
The Charlotte transfer led the team in scoring averaging 16.1 points a game which ranked ninth highest in the conference. Young also leads the teams in assists with 94. Since January, Young has found his stride scoring double figures in 14 straight games.
Young started off his Senior Day with a three-pointer and knocked down his second with five seconds left on the shot clock from the top of the key. Looked back towards the Maryland bench as that bucket put Maryland ahead 25-23 midway through the first half.
Young has electrified the Xfinity Center crowd throughout the season and Sunday was no exception. The Charlotte transfer added a powerful dunk in the first half as he was left wide open and he sailed to the hoop as fellow graduate student Emilien was credited with the assist.
“I felt the crowd was into it which helped us a bit,” Young said. “Just seeing your family on the side, all the people that came to support you gives you an extra little oomph and you just want to go out there and play hard for them.”
Young was feeling it from three, hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to end the first half, and put Maryland up 41-39. That basket carried the momentum for Maryland into the second half they used to separate themselves from the Wildcats.
Like Young, Carey is a Maryland native and also decided to return home for his final season. Carey had an up-and-down season where sometimes he scored a bunch and other games where he barely made an impact in the box score.
“We talked about it before the game, just staying in the moment really,” Carey said. “Enjoy the crowd, enjoy Xfinity. We do that every game cause we don’t really know if you won’t be playing. Just soaking everything in and appreciating the moment.”
But on Senior Day he made a major impact knocking down four three-pointers and finishing the game with 13 points.
In the first half, Carey contributed two critical three-pointers late in the first half with each one temporarily giving Maryland the lead back. On the second one Carey got the ball along the sideline and looked to step out of bounds but the refs appeared to miss it as Northwestern head coach Chris Collins furious.
The Georgetown transfer added another pretty three-pointer in the second half. Guard Ian Martinez secured the rebound and kicked the ball out to the corner where Carey was wide open. Like some of Carey’s other baskets, the ball swished through the net.
Willard had high praise for the graduate student.
“Don’s been our silent leader…although he struggled at times he’s brought the most professional attitude of any player I’ve ever coached,” Willard said. “He’s been our best team defender because he knows our schemes.”
Hart started his scoring with a three-pointer and the second half with one in transition. For the last several games Hart has been a major facilitator dishing out assists to teammates.
On Senior Day Hart tallied seven assists, one shy of his career-high he set back in January, including on a couple of Young’s three-pointers in the first half.
“I just love playing with this team,” Hart said. “There’s a lot of guys that can score the ball and who can facilitate themselves but when I see double teams I’m going to get off and I know guys are going to knock down shots, slash, and drive to the basket.”
Scott forced a turnover, picking the ball away from Wildcats Chase Audige. Scott threw the ball up the court to a wide-open Hart who laid down a filthy dunk to put an exclamation point on the game. The two seniors shared one more special moment together on the floor they spent the most amount of time on there.
Scott was a reliable player throughout his Maryland career, starting 108 games throughout his four-year career. On the court, Scott is known for his scoring and rebounding abilities.
The senior knocked down a three-pointer in the second half and jumpers, helping the Terps build a 50-43 lead early in the second half that they held the rest of the way.
After today’s game where Scott scored 11 points and recorded three rebounds, Scott is now tied for 31st all-time in points scored with 1,266 and is 20th all-time in rebounds with 668.
Emilien is a versatile player who can play multiple different positions including the fourth and five spots. Even though Emilien’s contributions didn’t always show up in the box score, he was a key contributor on the offensive and defensive end.
Emilien excelled as a backup for forward Julian Reese when he was in foul trouble where he helped guard some of the best big men in the country.
Emilien’s best game in a Maryland uniform came against Nebraska at home where he scored 10 points and recorded seven rebounds helping the Terps earn a win.
On Senior Day the St. Francis (NY) transfer recorded two assists, three rebounds and one block in 20 minutes. But one of Emilien’s assists was on Young’s powerful dunk in the first half that excited the sellout crowd.
The seniors are not done yet as the Terps have solidified a spot in the NCAA Tournament next month.