COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Maryland coach Mark Turgeon fought back tears of happiness when asked to describe his feelings about beating Duke.
Turgeon had just experienced the highlight of his two-year stint with the Terrapins, an 83-81 win over the second-ranked Blue Devils on Saturday night, and he was nearly too choked up to talk about it.
"It has been a hard week on my family, hard on my son last week. He had to leave the stands because the fans were so hard on his dad," Turgeon said, referring to crowd reaction during the Terrapins' home loss against Virginia.
"This win was for my family and the fans," Turgeon said. "I really wanted to beat Duke. This means a lot to me."
The stunning victory evidently meant a lot to the sellout crowd, too, as thousands of fans rushed the court immediately after the final buzzer to celebrate.
"It was a big win for us, for the school," guard Nick Faust said.
Center Alex Len, who had 19 points and nine rebounds, added, "I know our fans have waited for this win for four years."
Seth Allen broke a tie by making two free throws with 2.8 seconds left, and the Terrapins ended a six-game losing streak against their bitter rivals.
Coming off a five-day break, Maryland notched its most significant win of the season at the expense of a tired Duke playing its fourth game in 10 days.
The Blue Devils were worn out, and it showed.
Duke was outrebounded 40-20, never led in the second half and got only four points and three rebounds from 6-foot-10 senior center Mason Plumlee.
"This has been an exhausting schedule for our team," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We're playing on fumes and I think you could tell that with Mason. I thought he looked exhausted the whole game. He's been great. Obviously not good tonight."
The Terrapins (18-7, 6-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) did not trail after halftime but never could pull away.
Duke (22-3, 9-3) was down by 10 with 3:39 left but pulled even when Rasheed Sulaimon made three foul shots with 16.7 seconds to go. Quinn Cook then fouled Allen as the freshman guard drove through the lane, and Allen made both shots.
After a Duke timeout, Cook's desperation 30-footer bounced off the back rim. Chaos ensued as the fans immediately rushed the court.
"I thought it was in when I got it off," Cook said of his final attempt.
Allen scored 16 for the Terrapins, who had lost 12 of 13 against Duke – including a 20-point embarrassment last month.
"I told our players before the game, there's a lot of pride in Maryland basketball," Turgeon said. "There's also a lot of passion about Maryland basketball. We talked about playing with those two things for us and for our fans. Our fans were just tremendous."
From the end of the Star-Spangled Banner to the final buzzer, the crowd never stopped shouting for the Terps, who rewarded their fans with a memorable victory in a rivalry that appears destined to end when Maryland leaves for the Big Ten in 2014.
"I have a great deal of respect for Maryland," Krzyzewski said. "If it was such a rivalry they'd still be in the ACC. Obviously they don't think it's that important or else they wouldn't be in the Big Ten."
The Blue Devils had their six-game winning streak end. Seth Curry scored 25 and Cook added 18. But Plumlee was completely outplayed by the 7-1 Len, who went 6 for 8 from the field and 7 for 8 at the foul line.
Maryland committed a whopping 26 turnovers, eight by Allen. But the Terrapins shot an impressive 60 percent from the floor.
The Terps were without reserve guard Pe'Shon Howard, who was suspended for violating team rules. Despite being demoted from his starting role last month, Howard still leads the Terrapins in assists.
Maryland led 66-63 before Allen scored on a drive. Dez Wells then stole the ball from Cook and went in for a dunk for a seven-point lead with 5:20 left. After the Blue Devils closed to 71-63, James Padgett made a layup for Maryland and Wells made two foul shots for a 10-point cushion.
The crowd increased its volume with every subsequent basket by the Terrapins, whose previous win over Duke came in March 2010, when Greivis Vasquez celebrated Senior Night with a 20-point performance.
In this one, it was 80-72 before Curry made two straight 3-pointers to bring Duke to 80-78 with just under a minute left. After Wells was called for a charge, Curry had a 15-footer bounce in and out of the basket.
It was that kind of night for the Blue Devils.
This score was 39 all before Allen hit a 3-pointer to spark a 10-2 run that included five points from freshman Shaquille Cleare. It was 53-43 before Curry bagged a 3-pointer, Alex Murphy made a layup and Curry drove the lane following Maryland's third turnover in a 60-second span.
That cut the gap to three points, and seconds after a 3-pointer by Cook got the Blue Devils to 55-53.
After the Terrapins went up by six, they committed turnovers on three straight possessions. That enabled Duke to close to 59-57 on a dunk by Murphy, but four straight free throws by Len gave Maryland a 64-59 advantage with 7:20 remaining.