COLLEGE PARK, MD — 2018 is here and the Maryland Terps are ready to really dig into their conference schedule. After dropping two big games against Syracuse and Purdue, Maryland was able to finish 2017 with six wins before Big Ten play took over for good.
While the talent has certainly been there, we knew that this Maryland team was going to be a work in progress throughout the season due to their youth. The Terps took a big hit this past week though when Justin Jackson and Ivan Bender were ruled out for the remainder of the season. Jackson was being counted on as one of the leaders of this team and Bender will be greatly missed from a depth standpoint.
Replacing both of these players is not going to be easy and their absence will hurt the teams chances of competing against the bigger names in the Big Ten. You just hope that the team will mature rapidly enough to overcome this.
The first half of Tuesdays contest was a little unconventional for Maryland. Kevin Huerter picked up two fouls very early in the game and was forced to sit on the bench as a result. Huerter went scoreless but there was enough scoring from Anthony Cowan and Bruno Fernando to give Maryland a slim lead for most of the first half.
Neither team was able to get a three pointer to fall until a little over two minutes remained in the half. Penn States’s Tony Carr broke this with a pair of three pointers which helped spark an 11-3 run for the Nittany Lions. Penn State went into the half with a 34-30 lead.
Penn State and Maryland continued to play a very similar style of basketball in the second half. Neither team had a clear advantage in rebounds, turnovers, or shooting percentage. The only area of the game that ended up being disproportionate was the free throws. Maryland didn’t waste much time getting into the bonus in both halves but ended up making just 23/34 at the line. Penn State only shot four free throws in the entire game.
The second half scoring continued to come from those who had a hot hand. Cowan and Fernando would finish as the top scorers for the Terps but Kevin Huerter was able to finally come alive down the stretch. The Sophomore didn’t score his first points until about the ll minute mark when he knocked down a pair of free throws.
Overall the second half was what you would expect from Big Ten matchup. Two teams trading points back and forth until the final minutes when someone manages to pull away just in time. Here is how that happened for Maryland.
Darryl Morsell had a rough night but he sparked the Terps final push by nailing a three pointer with 4:30 to play. The big shot tied the game up but it wasn’t until the next possession when Michael Cekovsky got the home crowd really fired up. The big man was able to wrestle the ball away from a defender and throw it down for a huge dunk, giving Maryland their first lead since the first minute of the second half.
As the clock continued to tick away, the Terps played their best defense of the night and really put the pressure on the visitors. Kevin Huerter’s stellar finish included 13 points and four rebounds and played a huge role in the Terps win. Huerter was also lights out at the free throw line to help Maryland put the game away in the final minuets.
The 75-69 win marks Maryland’s second in conference play and gives them some nice momentum going into what could be their biggest game of the season. Mark Turgeon will have to get his young team ready by Thursday as the Terps prepare to take on the #1 ranked Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing.
Image Credit: Toni L. Sandys / The Washington Post