Terps collapse in final minutes of 71-68 loss to Indiana

On Monday night Maryland traveled to Assembly Haall to take on Indiana. The Terps had not won a game in this building since joining the Big Ten and that streak would continued as the Hoosiers slipped past Maryland for a late 71-68 win.

Maryland is now 1-5 on the road this year and can’t seem to get a win even when they are in control late in the game. Anthony Cowan had 13 points in the first half but couldn’t keep that pace going when things started ramping up down the stretch. The sophomore ended up putting up 18 shots in Mondays loss, including six from beyond the arc but only made six for 18 points.

It was frustrating to see Cowan force shots in the second half when he just didn’t have the same touch. Kevin Huerter was far more consistent throughout the game but couldn’t get his hands on the ball late in the game. I’m not sure if this was by design or not but it was clear that Cowan was not in the same mindset when things got rough. The refs didn’t make it any easier on him too. I can;t even count how many times Cowan tried to get things going by driving to the rim only to be bumped with no call.

This close loss is certainly not entirely on Cowan’s shoulders though. Both Michael Cekovsky and Joshua Tomaic, who was making his first career start, went scoreless. Bruno Fernando came off the bench and provided some sparks of offense but went down with an ankle injury early in the second half. The freshman big man would not return and the Terps suffered as a result.

When you see these stats, it’s clear to see why Cowan took so many shots. At the same time I still think it is fair to criticize him for it when he just wasn’t getting the results he wanted from himself or the refs.

Even if Fernando had stayed in the game it would have been close down the stretch. Indiana was shooting very well right from the opening tip and finished the game 50% from the field. Eighteen Maryland turnovers also strongly contributed to Indiana’s success but the Hoosiers never let Maryland get any separation. Through all the ups and downs, Indiana matched the Terps perfectly.

Had it not been for some big performances by the Terps bench players, Maryland would have been blown out by the Hoosiers. Jared Nickens stepped up big time and provided 12 points by going 4-7 from beyond the arc while Dion Wiley chipped in eight of his own.

This was enough to keep Maryland in the game but in the end the Terps depth issues and lack of composure where exposed. It wasn’t on my mind earlier in the year but the absence of Melo Trimble has clearly impacted this teams ability to close out games. The former Maryland guard had a knack for getting to the rim and making the clutch shots. That has been missing in a handful of key games this year but most notably against Syracuse, Michigan, and now Indiana.

Maryland really needed this one to help build some steam because the road ahead is looking very tough. The next two games will be against #6 Michigan State and #3 Purdue. The only good news is the Terps will have the rest of the week to prepare for their rematch against the Spartans on Sunday. However, it will be a quick turnaround as they have to travel to face the Boilermakers that following Wednesday.

If Maryland can’t get Bruno Fernando back soon they don’t stand a chance against either of these teams. Both Michigan State and Purdue boast impressive frontcourt players that will feast on the Terps big men. Maryland’s lack of depth at this position was exposed very quickly the last time they played the Spartans but it will be even worse without Fernando.

Image credit: Darron Cummings / AP

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Strong second half leads Maryland past Minnesota 77-66

The Maryland Terrapins came into Thursday’s matchup desperately needing a win. The Terps had run into a rough patch over the last two weeks and dropped three of their last four games. The third and most recent loss came on Monday when Maryland couldn’t hold a late lead against Michigan and lost in a 68-67 heart-breaker.

On Thursday the Terps returned their comfortable home atmosphere to host Minnesota, another Big Ten team looking to make a name for themselves in the conference. Just like Maryland, the Golden Gophers have experienced some tough injuries and been labeled a disappointment. When the game started the two teams continued to look rather similar but the Terps would pull away in the second half and win 77-66.

Four Maryland players finished with double-digit scoring but the starting five was as solid as they have been all season in every facet of the game. Anthony Cowan is usually the driving force behind the teams scoring but the sophomore played a great all around game to help lift Maryland to a win. After going scoreless in the first half, Cowan finished with 15 points, 6 rebounds and a career high 10 assists.

When you look at Minnesota’s night it’s almost crazy how they remained in the game in the first half. The Golden Gophers struggled to shoot over 30% from the field throughout Thursday’s contest but made enough from beyond the arc to stay in striking distance. Some great offensive rebounding and a surplus of Maryland turnovers also helped contribute to a slim 29-28 Maryland lead at the half.

The second half was an entirely different story. While Minnesota continued to struggle, Maryland came out of the gate strong by making 10 of their first 11 shots. Michael Cekovsky started to heat up during this span, racking up a quick ten points in the paint. The rest of the Maryland lineup consistently fed Cekovsky the ball and he continued to deliver with a handful of dunks that brought the crowd back to life. Cekovsky finished his night with 17 points and four blocks.

Thursday’s win also saw a return to form for Kevin Huerter. Unlike some recent games, the Terps didn’t have to wait around for the pale menace to show up. Huerter led the way right from the start, scoring 11 of his 19 points in the first half. The sophomore would also finish with eight rebounds and five assists to round out one of the best starts of his career.

Maryland will hit the road again on Monday to play Indiana at Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers are another team stuck in the middle of the Big Ten and will certainly pose a threat to a Maryland team that has struggled on the road.

Image Credit: Patrick Semansky / AP

Terps take late lead but can’t hold on in 68-67 loss to #23 Michigan

Maryland walked into Ann Arbor on Monday night and quickly took control of their game against #23 Michigan but still ended up losing in disappointing fashion. The Wolverines passed the Terps at the last second with a pair of free throws by Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and escaped with a 68-67 win.

Anthony Cowan put up 24 points and left it all on the court for the Terps, but in the end it wasn’t enough to take down Michigan. The newly-ranked Wolverines leaned on their veteran players after getting off to a slow start and held off the Terps late in the game.

Michigan shot just 31% from the field in the first half, and found themselves down by ten at the half. Maryland did not do anything spectacular during this stretch but they certainly controlled the pace of the game by running a balanced offense and grabbing rebounds. Not only was Michigan shooting poorly, but they showed almost no hustle when it came to getting offensive rebounds. Maryland held a 22-12 advantage in that category at the half.

Unlike their past losses to Michigan State and Ohio State, the Terps’ lack of depth was not exposed in the first half. Everything was moving slow and the home crowd was clearly impacted by it. Once the Wolverines sped the game up, everything changed.

Michigan came out of the half swinging and quickly tied the game up with a 10-0 run. A few minutes later, the Wolverines put on a three-point shooting contest and started to run away from Maryland. Michigan nailed seven baskets from beyond the arc over a five-minute span. You have to give credit where it is due and Michigan deserves it, but Maryland left their shooters wide open on almost all of these attempts.

As the clock ticked away and the game approached crunch time, the defect felt twice as large but Maryland remained within striking distance. Kevin Huerter finally came to life after a quiet start and joined Cowan to put Maryland just one possession behind Michigan. The two sophomores combined for a dozen points in the final two minutes but the biggest shot came from Huerter with just seconds left.

With 16 seconds remaining and no timeouts, Maryland needed a basket to tie. The ball was passed around quickly but Huerter ended up drilling a deep three-pointer to give the Terps a 67-66 lead. After the hectic sequence the Wolverines were left with just three seconds to inbound and score.

Michigan faced no resistance from Maryland on the inbound as they easily got the ball across mid court on the pass. Senior guard Abdur-Rahkman raced toward the basket and got tripped up by Bruno Fernando, drawing a foul. In a fairy tale finish, Abdur-Rahkman sunk both free throws to give himself seven on the night and 1,000 for his career.

This is not the Terps’ first heartbreaking defeat of the year but it will sting the most. After dropping big games against Syracuse, Purdue, Michigan State and Ohio State, Maryland was given yet another opportunity and they squandered it.

There is no single moment to blame, though. Obviously, the Terps should have defended the inbound better and not given one of the best free throw shooters in the game a chance to win at the line. But what about the Terps’ own foul shooting? Despite struggling to score a basket at times in the second half, Maryland drew fouls. However, they went just 9-for-14 at the line. Just a few more of those and you get a win.

My biggest gripe has to be the pace of play. The key to Maryland’s first half success was so clear but they failed to stick with it when Michigan started to make a comeback. When you lose by one point, you look back at all the little things that happened down the stretch. Trying to run a fast offense while throwing up bricks should be looming over the Terps as they leave Ann Arbor because they have no one to blame but themselves for this loss.

Maryland is now 1-4 on the road but they will return home on Thursday to host Minnesota. The Golden Gophers hold a similar record to the Terps and are scrapping just as hard to make a name for themselves in the Big Ten.

Image credit: Tony Ding / Associated Press

Terps fall to Ohio State 91-69 after cold shooting performance

On Thursday night, the Maryland Terrapins lost to Ohio State 91-69, marking their second blowout loss in the last three games. Conference play has not been kind to the Terps so far and things are not looking any brighter on the horizon.

Ohio State was not ranked coming into this matchup but they should be by next Monday. After knocking off #1 Michigan State on Sunday, the Buckeyes became one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten and they moved to 5-0 in conference play after stomping the Terps on Thursday.

Keita Bates-Diop has been one of the biggest standouts in the Big Ten this year, averaging 20 points per game. He led the way for the Buckeyes once again on Thursday by recording 26 points and eight rebounds. Overall the Buckeyes had an amazing shooting night to help lift themselves over the visiting Terps.

Just for comparison, Ohio State shot 52% from the field in their win over Michigan State last week and they shoo 56% against Maryland. The Buckeyes were even better from the three-point line, picking up 17 of their 32 baskets from beyond the arc. Three other players, in addition to Bates-Diop, finished with double-digit point totals.

Maryland was abysmal from the field all night. The Terps shot just 36% and got about 25% of their points from the free-throw line. Unlike past losses, the turnover margin was not to blame. Maryland coughed up the ball just seven times but still managed to lose in lopsided fashion.

Like in their loss to the Spartans last week, Maryland found themselves on the wrong side of a scoring run at the end of the first half.  The teams were tied at 22 with eight minutes to play but the Buckeyes quickly took complete control with a 22-2 scoring run. Mark Turgeon did not call a timeout during this entire span even though the Terps were clearly not running their proper game plan. The Buckeyes defense was stout but when your team is forcing shots early in the clock and not hustling back on fast breaks, you need to call a timeout and reset.

The only player who didn’t have a terrible night for the Terps was Michael Cekovsky. The senior started his night by going 5-for-5 with ten points and finished with 18. Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter usually lead the way on offense but the two combined to shoot 7-for-23. Rounding out the starting lineup were freshmen Darrel Morsell and Bruno Fernando. The two have been electric in the past but were non-existent in Thursday’s loss, combining for six points on 1-for-9 shooting.

Its’ difficult to not be frustrated with this Maryland team. When they started the season there was a lot of promise and opportunity but that has faded pretty quickly. Certainly the injuries have had a big impact on their play but the opportunities to pick up quality wins continue to come and go.

The Terps have played a handful of games against quality opponents but their best wins are still against Butler and Penn State. Meanwhile, there are already at least three or four losses that will come back to haunt the Terps when the season is over.

Mark Turgeon and the Terps will take the weekend off before traveling to face Michigan on Monday. This presents yet another opportunity for Maryland to pick up a big win. Hopefully they can regroup and put themselves in a position to win down the stretch instead of falling behind early.

Image credit: Adam Cairns / TNS

Podcast: Vasilios and Jake dive into the NFL Divisional Playoffs, Martindale promotion, and latest Terps buzz

On the latest episode of the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast, reporter Vasilios Nikolaou joins owner Jake McDonnell for a half-hour of sports talk.

A few days before the NFL Divisional round, the guys break down the key things to watch for during “the best football weekend” on the NFL calendar.

On Monday, we heard Nolan‘s take on the recent rumors surrounding the brass of the New England Patriots. How does Vasilios feel about this story that is sure to linger into the offseason?

On Tuesday, the Ravens promoted linebackers coach Don “Wink” Martindale to defensive coordinator. Is this a yay or nay move?

Last up on the podcast is some college hoops talk. Despite departures and injuries to several key players, the Terps look impressive as conference play gets underway. What can we expect to see from this 2017-18 Terps squad? Vasilios and Jake have you covered.

Subscribe to the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud. Check out Vasilios on the LegacyMaker Sports Network as well. Thanks for listening!

Podcast: Nolan and Jake go over the latest on the NFL Playoffs, New England Patriots, and Terps hoops

Welcome to the latest episode of the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast! On today’s show, insider Nolan McGraw joins site founder Jake McDonnell for a half-hour of sports talk.

In the middle of the NFL playoffs, the guys recapped Wild Card weekend and looked ahead to the Divisional round. Nolan and Jake also discussed at length the ESPN story that questioned the relationship between New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick, and quarterback Tom Brady.

Nolan has been all over our Maryland Terps Basketball coverage so far this season. With conference play now underway, how does Nolan feel about the 2017-18 Terps squad?

Subscribe to the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud. Thanks for listening!