Dez Wells had done the same thing before the season even started, during a private scrimmage at Comcast Center against Villanova. Back then, the Maryland season was full of promise.

On Wednesday night, the Terps were bordering somewhere between despair and desperation. A 10-point lead on Miami, built on defense and Wells’ second-half scoring binge, was gone.

This time, a 3-point shot by Wells with 5.9 seconds remaining not only lifted the Terps to a much-needed 74-71 victory, but it provided the 6-foot-4 junior guard with the signature moment of his basketball career.

“This was my first [official] game-winner, the first of hopefully many,” said Wells, who finished with a team-high 21 points, all coming in the second half.

Asked whether he had ever hit a game-winner back in high school in Raleigh, N.C., Wells said with a smile: “I played with C.J. Leslie and John Wall. I was a part of many game-winners.”

The 3-point shot concluded a perfect second half after two early fouls had sent Wells to the Maryland bench a little more than three minutes into the game.

Wells, who didn’t attempt a shot in the first half, was 7-for-7 in the second half. As a team, Maryland (12-9, 4-4) shot 16-for-23 in the second half and 28-for-50 for the game.

Wells’ shot also helped the Terps avoid what could have been their most painful defeat in a season filled with ugly losses to nonconference opponents such as Boston University and Oregon State, as well as more recently within the Atlantic Coast Conference at North Carolina State.

It certainly took some heat off third-year coach Mark Turgeon, at least momentarily. While Gary Williams had built up more than a decade of equity when his team blew a 10-point lead in the final minute to Duke in 2000-01, Turgeon had not.

“I told our kids after the game, ‘Sometimes it’s good to get a win like that instead of just getting an easy one,'” Turgeon said. “Give Miami credit because they didn’t quit, but it’s a good win for us.”

Turgeon said the final play was designed for Wells to either drive – something Miami (10-10, 2-6) might have expected given how the Hurricanes were playing off him – pull up, or find one of Maryland’s other shooters, junior forward Evan Smotrycz (15 points) in particular.

But Wells, who had missed a similar shot in the final frantic moments in a one-point, season-opening loss to Connecticut in Brooklyn, N.Y., decided to pull up from about 20 feet despite the fact that he had made just one 3-pointer in six attempts in his past six games.

“He had made up his mind,” said Turgeon, who opted not to take a timeout after Miami senior guard Rion Brown (who scored a game-high 25 points) tied the game with a 3-pointer with 19 seconds to go. “He was feeling good. He made some tough shots in the second half. He really played well out there. I was happy for him."

The Terps had blown all of the 10-point lead that Wells had largely helped construct by doing what they have done on many occasions this season, but had not done against the Hurricanes.

Simply put, Maryland panicked.