March Madness: Maryland's Julian Reese punctuates tight win over West Virginia with thunderous poster dunk

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA - MARCH 16: Julian Reese #10 of the Maryland Terrapins reacts after a basket against the West Virginia Mountaineers in the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Legacy Arena at the BJCC on March 16, 2023 in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images)

West Virginia and Maryland got NCAA tournament play off to a rousing start on Thursday.

In a game that was tight throughout after a hot West Virginia start, Maryland held on for a 67-65 win in the opening game of the men's tournament. Maryland's Julian Reese punctuated the victory with a thunderous dunk over West Virginia forward Patrick Suemnick in the game's final minutes.

West Virginia had a shot at a game-winning buzzer-beater after a Jahmir Young missed free throw with 4.7 seconds remaining, but Kedrian Johnson's shot in transition was off the mark. Maryland rallied from an early 19-6 deficit to secure the win.

Close call benefits Terps

Maryland also benefited from a late close. Young appeared to lose control of the ball out of bounds with Maryland leading, 66-63 with 47.1 seconds remaining. But officials called it out of bounds on West Virginia on the court. They spent several minutes reviewing the play and couldn't determine with certainty if a player touched the ball after Young, so Maryland maintained control of the ball.

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Maryland's Donta Scott then missed a contested layup but got his own rebound, and the Terps were able to run the clock down to 28.5 seconds before turning the ball over. Tre Mitchell scored a layup on West Virginia's ensuing possession to cut the deficit to 66-65. But the score left just 8.4 seconds on the clock, ultimately not enough time for a Mountaineers comeback.

Reese led the way for Maryland with 17 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Four Maryland players scored in double figures as the Terrapins shot 51.1% from the field.

Johnson led the way for West Virginia with 27 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field. But West Virginia largely struggled from the field with a 39.3% shooting effort despite going 8 of 19 (42.1%) from 3-point distance. All-Big 12 guard Erik Stevenson scored 9 points on a 4-of-17 shooting effort.

Maryland advances to face No. 1 seed Alabama on Saturday.