SPOKANE, WASH. — Maryland's season-long hopes of advancing to its first Sweet 16 since 2003 rose with a stirring late-game comeback and then - just like that - collapsed after a 3-pointer in the last second by a reserve Michigan State guard destined to live in Terrapins basketball infamy.
Korie Lucious, a career 32.7 percent shooter from beyond the arc, effectively ended the careers of Maryland's three starting seniors by beating the buzzer for an 85-83 victory that sent the fifth-seeded Spartans to St. Louis for an NCAA tournament third-round meeting with Northern Iowa on Friday.
The fourth-seeded Terps (24-9) were left dazed. Freshman forward Jordan Williams, whose 10 rebounds were not enough to offset a large Michigan State rebounding advantage, sat in the lane for several moments after the game-winning shot until his teammates beckoned him toward the bench. Senior Landon Milbourne buried his head under a white towel in the dressing room.
"It's going to take a couple weeks, a couple months - maybe a year - to get over this," said senior guard Greivis Vasquez (26 points), who ended his career second on Maryland's career scoring list after passing Len Bias in Sunday's game.
Moments earlier, Vasquez had hit a floater with 6.6 seconds remaining to lift the Terps to an 83-82 lead. Maryland had trailed by as many as 16 midway through the second half before rallying. Vasquez scored 10 points in the final two minutes.
"The [Maryland] comeback was unbelievable," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. The comeback was fueled by relentless full-court pressure in the second half.
The Spartans lost star point guard Kalin Lucas to a serious Achilles tendon injury near the end of the first half and were forced to play Lucious more than usual at the point. Izzo said he told his team in the final moments that "we're going to win this game and it's going to be one of the greatest games in the history of Michigan State."
With the Spartans trailing by one point, Draymond Green brought the ball up and passed to Lucious, a sophomore. Lucious took a dribble and shot with a second - or less - on the clock. The closest Terp, Milbourne, extended his left arm as Lucious released the ball.
"I knew they were going to have a chance to get a shot, but I didn't think it would be as good a look," Milbourne said.
Milbourne called it "an unbelievable shot" and "a crazy shot."
A drained Maryland coach Gary Williams was asked where the defeat ranked in his 21-year Maryland career. "Let's see, where would it be?" Williams replied. "[In] 2001 in the Final Four we were up 20 on Duke. I'm sure there have been others. Right now, I can't think."
The game-winning basket set off a Michigan State celebration that sent Lucious and other players tumbling to the floor.
Izzo embraced Lucas, the All-Big Ten player whose season ended with the injury that occurred with Michigan State up by nine points in the first half.
The Spartans, second in the nation in rebounding, won the game partly on the boards. They out-rebounded Maryland, 42-24. Jordan Williams, Maryland's leading rebounder, was limited by early foul trouble.
The Spartans also possessed inside-outside balance. Junior guard Durrell Summers shot 10-for-14, including 6-of-7 on 3-pointers, and finished with 26 points.
"Their shooting surprised us in the first half," Gary Williams said. "We knew that Summers was a good shooter … but some other guys made some shots and I think you don't want to play teams that are wounded in a one-game deal."
Besides losing Lucas, the Spartans also were without starting guard Chris Allen (foot injury) for all but a few minutes of the game.
The Terps said they will eventually look back on this game - and a season in which they tied Duke atop the Atlantic Coast Conference standings - and be proud.
But Sunday was too soon for that. It still hurt too much.
"I think that later on in my life I'll be able to look back on this and see what a great comeback we did and [how] we had the game won there for a moment," said guard Eric Hayes (18 points), who played his last game along with Vasquez and Milbourne.