JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – John Calipari is prone to hyperbole. So, Rick Byrd could only laugh when he heard his friend called Belmont "the most dangerous team in the country."
Now, the Bruins won't even have the opportunity to become America's most popular.
After sneaking into The First Four with the Ohio Valley Conference's first at large bid in 32 years, and claiming the first ever NCAA Tournament win in school history, 11th-seeded Belmont missed its chance to become the country's next mid-major darling after blowing a 12 -point lead and committing in the final seconds of its 79-77 loss to sixth-seeded Maryland at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena
Belmont (27-6), which surrendered a first-half double-digit lead and then fought back from an eight-point deficit in the second half, had the ball in the final seconds with a chance to pull the upset.
Trailing by one, Byrd, a 33rd year as a Belmont coach, opted not to call timeout, trusting the second-highest scoring offense in the But before Cinderella could find the slipper, it tripped, with freshman Grayson Murphy throwing away a backdoor passport. Maryland's Darryl Morsell was fouled with 2.5 seconds left, and his final free throw, but Dylan Windler's potential game-winning half-court heave came up well short.
Maryland received double-doubles from future NBA frontlines Bruno Fernando (14 points , 13 rebounds) and Jalen Smith (19 points, 12 rebounds), while Windler hit seven 3-pointers and route to a brilliant 35-point performance.