COLLEGE PARK, MD — After losing a road game against Syracuse earlier this week, Maryland was faced with a quick turnaround. There was no time to stew over the loss because Purdue was on their way to College Park to begin conference play early.
Since joining the Big Ten, Maryland hasn’t had much trouble creating potential rivalries. Purdue is one of those teams that the Terps have had exciting battles with the past few years. Possibly the most exiting game took place last season when both teams squared off as members of the top 25. Maryland jumped out to a 12 point lead about mid-way through the second half but collapsed down the stretch, allowing the Boilermakers to come all the way back and win with a pair of free throws in the final seconds.
This year Purdue found themselves ranked as a preseason top 20 team. A pair of disappointing losses to Tennessee and Western Kentucky knocked them out of the poll but they have since bounced back with great wins against #2 Arizona and #17 Louisville.
In the first half of Fridays game the Terps found themselves down by ten early despite only turning the ball over once. Earlier this week that would have seemed impossible but when you go up against Purdue, you have to stop their big men and Maryland couldn’t do that. Freshman, Bruno Fernando has been flashy so far this year but he hasn’t had to defend anyone like Isaac Haas. The Boilermakers center dominated early on, picking up eight points and block by the 11 minute mark.
Maryland found themselves down by 14 on multiple occasions in the first half because of some lights out shooting by Haas and Dakota Mathias. The Purdue seniors combined to shoot 13/14 from the field for 30 points.
Given all of this, it’s pretty surprising that Maryland was able to make it a 43-37 game by the half. The Terps enjoyed a significant advantage in the rebound column, grabbing ten on offense and eight on defense. Throw in 12 free throw opportunities and all of a sudden things aren’t looking as lopsided in Purdue’s favor.
The Terps carried this momentum into the second half by going on a small 7-0 run. The quick burst of offense gave Maryland their first lead of the game but it wouldn’t last long. As the half progressed Purdue regained the lead, forcing the Terps to continue playing from behind.
Just like the first half, Maryland would be given a chance to come back at the foul line. The Boilermakers were called for seven fouls in the span of four minutes, putting Maryland in the bonus with eleven to play. Purdue was able to work their way into the bonus as well, making the final minutes of Friday’s game a slow and grueling experience.
As the final minutes approached it looked like Purdue had wrapped up yet another quality win but the Terps weren’t done yet. Down by eight with under a minute to play Anthony Cowan Jr. put the team on his back. The sophomore guard scored seven points in the span of ten seconds after getting fouled on a three pointer and a layup. This late game surge brought Maryland back within three, but just like their game against Syracuse, the Terps couldn’t finish late.
Mark Turgeon called a timeout to draw up a play and to his credit, it was run very smoothly. A pick allowed Jarred Nickens to get free for an open shot from the corner but he came up short. The Boilermakers rebounded and made the ensuing foul shots to walk away with a nice 80-75 road win.
The Terps answered the turnover problems that caused their first two loses and even finished with an advantage in rebounds, but it was not enough for a win. Once again this young team has been tested by a tough opponent but their inexperience continues to show in crunch time. More playtime will likely bring this young team together as conference play progresses but the Big Ten is always a slug fest.
Maryland will have another quick turnaround as they prepare to play Illinois on the road this Sunday. After losing three of their last four, the Terps are just looking for a win to get their groove back. Tip off is at 8:00 pm.
Image Credit: Patrick Semansky / AP