With as many new faces as No. 24 Maryland has, every game is a learning experience for coach Gary Williams.
His Terps blew most of an 18-point lead Friday night but then hung on to defeat Notre Dame 72-67 in the consolation game of the Preseason NIT.
No. 8 Arizona played No. 11 Kentucky for the tournament championship in the second game of the doubleheader at Madison Square Garden.
"This is a new experience," Williams said. "We are not consistent yet. We had to work hard to get the win. We have our ups and downs."
Then came the downs as Notre Dame converted five straight 3-pointers to cut the Maryland lead to one point. But the Terps hung on, thanks to the inside work of 6-foot-8 sophomore Lonny Baxter, who scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
Troy Murphy fueled Notre Dame's comeback and finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds for the Irish (3-2).
Murphy said the Irish have a new spirit under first-year coach Matt Doherty.
"He has instilled toughness in us that was not there last year," the sophomore said. "It was a positive for us to get here. Now we want to show everybody we can compete."
The Irish had no inside answers for Baxter. He and Terence Morris helped Maryland open an 11-point halftime lead and threatened to blow the game open in the second half.
Then Notre Dame launched a frantic comeback that cut the margin to one point at 66-65. Five straight 3-pointers, two each by Matt Carroll and Jere Macura and one by Murphy, got the Irish back in the game.
But Baxter converted a pair of dunks inside, each time converting rebounds into baskets, and Morris got free fo another dunk to help Maryland stay in front.
Murphy missed a pair of crucial free throws with just over one minute to play and Maryland up by four.
After Carroll missed two 3-point tries, Harold Swanagan hit on a rebound, cutting the Terps lead to 69-67 with 26.9 seconds left in the game. But Juan Dixon and Danny Miller converted three foul shots to finish off the Irish (3-2).
Maryland outrebounded Notre Dame 38-34 and hurt the Irish with some timely 3-point shooting.
Miller sandwiched a pair of 3s around one by Steven Blake as the Terps raced to a 13-2 lead In the first 2 1/2 minutes.
It was a game of catch-up after that for Notre Dame and the Irish came close but could not overtake the Terps.
All five starters were in double figures for the Terps with Steven Blake getting 14, Morris and Miller 12 apiece and Dixon 11.
Martin Ingelsby and Carroll had 11 each for Notre Dame.
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