Jahmir Young comes up clutch as No. 22 Maryland bests No.16 Illinois at home

Photo by Maryland Athletics

Maryland men’s basketball clung to a one-point lead in the final seconds. Guard Jahmir Young knocked down a three-pointer with 14 seconds left to put Maryland ahead, 70-66.

No. 22 Maryland (8-0) held on to upset No. 16 Illinois (6-2), 71-66, to remain undefeated and win their Big Ten opener in front of a gold-laden student section crowd and a packed Xfinity Center. 

“It was an unbelievable feeling,” Young said. “Terp nation fans are the best. That crowd was crazy. The noise was crazy. Just being able to hit that shot was a dream come true and something you dream about when you are a kid.”

The players ran towards the student section to celebrate their biggest win of the season in front of the largest home crowd to date.

“I’ll probably think about how great the student section is because I’ve heard about it,” head coach Kevin Willard said. “I’ve heard about the flag but that’s the first time I actually saw it.”

The game started off as a back-and-forth affair, with the teams making their first 10 shots as Illinois jumped out to a 12-11 lead. 

Maryland regained the lead as guard Hakim Hart found his groove scoring eight straight points to put Maryland up 19-14. 

Young knocked down his second three-pointer of the night, forcing Illinois to take a timeout. Maryland continued their momentum after the timeout, proceeding to go on a 17-2 run and jump out to a 28-16 lead. 

The Terps’ defense held Illinois without a field goal for nearly seven minutes, but Illini forward Coleman Hawkins stopped the momentum with a deep three-pointer. That three-pointer sparked a 7-0 Illini run to cut their deficit to 28-25. 

Maryland played tight defense in the first half forcing seven Illini turnovers, which the Terps converted into 12 first-half points. 

The Terps remained hot from beyond the arc as Hart and Young combined for three more first-half three-pointers as the Terps held a 41-34 lead at halftime. 

Young and Hart combined for 29 of the Terps’ 41 first-half points, making seven three-pointers. 

Young picked up where he left off, starting the second half by intercepting a bad bounce pass and raced up the court, laying down a layup. 

Illinois remained in the game as guards Terrence Shannon Jr. and RJ Melendez carried the offense, combining for Illinois’ first 14 points of the second half. Each finished in double figures.

Maryland played sloppier in the second half going against Illinois’s big men. Illinois recorded three blocks in four Maryland possessions leading to a 9-0 Illinois run, cutting Maryland’s lead to 55-54 with 8:51 left. 

The pace slowed, as both teams found themselves going to the free-throw line a lot. The Terps shot 8-9 from the free throw line over the first 12 minutes of the second half and finished the game shooting 14-18 from the free throw line. 

Scott stopped the bleeding, nailing another jumper, but Illinois responded with a Dainja layup keeping the Illini within one.

Illinois tied the game after Shannon made his first free throw, but missed the second, leading to Young corralling a critical defensive rebound. Young was fouled and nailed both his free throws. 

On Maryland’s next possession, Hart knocked down another three-pointer with 6:20 left in the game, erupting the crowd and putting the Terps up by five. 

Illinois went on a 5-0 run to tie the game again at 62-62 after Skyy Clark hit a three-pointer with 4:38 left as this was the first close game the Terps found themselves in. 

“I think Illinois is as well coached top to bottom and has as good of a roster as anyone in the country,” Willard said. “To get your first win against a team that good is really important. We’re trying to win a Big Ten championship.”

Down the stretch, Ian Martinez blocked a three-pointer, and Maryland got the loose ball. Young missed the layup, but Dainja was called for basket interference, awarding the basket to Young, putting Maryland up 65-62 with 2:36 left. 

The Illini made a layup to again cut the deficit to one, but on Maryland’s ensuing possession, Julian Reese grabbed an offensive rebound and made the second-chance opportunity, putting Maryland up 67-64.

The Illini responded again with another layup, cutting the deficit to one. Both teams missed three-pointers on their next possessions, setting up Young for his big moment.