Maryland escapes Illinois with 92-91 overtime win

Big Ten conference play is here early this year and you can feel the pressure/excitement in the air. There are still some non-conference games to be played in December, but so far the Terps have been tested with some quality opponents.

A pair of loses to Syracuse and Purdue have some fans and pundits concerned about Maryland but both of these games came down to one possession in the final seconds. While this young team may not have the best killer instinct come crunch time, they have shown the ability to hang with their opponent until the end.

On Sunday, the Terps traveled to Illinois to play their second conference game of the year. Despite taking a 22-point lead at one point in the first half, the Terps allowed Illinois to come all the way back in the second half. For the fourth time in the last five games, Maryland found themselves in a stressful situation late in the game. This time they would walk away victorious.

Maryland got right after their opponent in the early minutes of Sunday night’s game. The Fighting Illini looked completely lost as the Terps practically bullied them for the ball. Illinois coughed up the ball five times in the first five minutes as the Terps enjoyed a 10-0 advantage right from the tip.

As the half progressed Maryland would slowly extend their lead while shooting over 60% from the field. Anthony Cowan Jr. was the catalyst, scoring 16 points on 6-8 shooting. By the end of the half, Maryland was enjoying the benefits of a 23-8 scoring run, giving them a 19-point lead over Illinois at the half.

The script was flipped at the half and the Illini looked more alive with their back against the ropes. A couple of lopsided scoring runs allowed them to cut the large Maryland lead down fairly quickly. Before you knew it, the Illini had battled their way within six points of Maryland and brought the home crowd back into the game as well.

With about seven minutes left to play in the second half, Illinois looked unstoppable as they shoot well over 70% from the field. Turgeon tried to stop the bleeding by calling a few timeouts but the Terps never regained their footing.

Cowan Jr. helped put the team up by 19 in the first half but he went scoreless until the five-minute mark of the second half. The problem wasn’t with Cowan Jr. though, because the rest of the team went ice cold too. It wasn’t long until the Illini grabbed their first lead of the game and forced the Terps to go into full panic mode.

With just a four seconds left it looked like Illinois had everything wrapped up. The only thing left to do was inbound the ball cleanly but a terrible pass sailed out-of-bounds and Maryland was given one last opportunity. Turgeon drew up a play and called upon Kevin Huerter to take the big shot. His three ball from the corner went over the rim but Bruno Fernando was right there to muscle it back in for a game-tying bucket at the buzzer.

In overtime, the Terps’ offense came back to life but Illinois still wouldn’t let up. The teams traded baskets and free throws for the entirety of overtime but in the end the Terps held the ball last. Cowan Jr. dribbled the ball up the court as the clock worked it’s way under 10 seconds and it was clear to everyone in the arena that he planned on taking it to the hoop himself.

The sophomore guard pulled up inside the key and drew the contact he wanted. The Illinois crowd erupted in boos but the damage had already been done. Cowan Jr. went to the line and sunk the necessary free throw to take the lead and after purposefully missing the second. The Illini were left with no time to get a shot off.

Maryland escaped with a 92-91 win but it could have been so much easier had they forced themselves to the free throw line in the second half. The Terps will return to College Park with five non-conference home games on the horizon. They will not see another Big Ten opponent until the beginning of January when they take on Penn State.

Image Credit: Austin Yattoni

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Maryland fails to overcome Purdue’s seniors, opens conference play with 80-75 loss

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

Huerter drops 23 but Maryland falls short in battle with Syracuse 72-70

SYRACUSE — Maryland basketball has been back in swing for a few weeks now but their Monday night matchup with Syracuse marks their first opportunity for a quality win. Through the first seven games the Terps have been able to take care of business for the most part. They did get caught by St. Bonaventure this past weekend in a 63-61 loss, but overall things have been progressing smoothly for Mark Turgeon’s young squad.

With the departure of Melo Trimble this past offseason, many thought Maryland would be at a disadvantage in 2017-2018. So far this post-Trimble team has managed to find success by sharing the wealth. We got a glimpse of this last year when Kevin Huerter and Justin Jackson ended up as major contributors as freshman. Last season, some pressure was taken off of Trimble but as the season wore on, he ended up shooting more than his teammates but the shots just weren’t falling.

Maryland is certainly lacking some on court leadership with Trimble gone, but it looks like the depth of this year’s team will make up for that. The foundation of Huerter, Jackson, and Anthony Cowan Jr. will lead the way but there are other exciting players to look out for. Junior Dion Wiley is finally back from an injury-plagued 2016-17 while Bruno Fernando and Darryl Morsell will look to make waves in their freshman year.

The Terps’ downfall so far this season has been turnovers. A lopsided 20-9 turnover margin was a major factor in their loss to St. Bonaventure and it certainly had an impact in the early goings of Monday nights game.

Eleven first half turnovers helped Syracuse take a 36-35 lead but the Terps’ shooting kept them in the game. Maryland finished the half with a 10-4 scoring run and a three-point shooting percentage of 41.7%. Huerter was on fire from beyond the arc and Fernando dominated inside for a balanced Terrapin attack.

Both of these players continued to produce for the Terps in the second half. With the lead bouncing back and forth, the Terps needed to rely on them to stay hot down the stretch.

With under two minutes to play, Huerter nailed his seventh three-pointer of the game to take a 66-65 lead. However, Syracuse’s Tyus Battle would respond quickly with a three of his own. The Terps were looking to score again as the clock winded down but a very untimely turnover by Cowan handed Syracuse the game. Huerter added yet another desperation three-pointer but it was too late for Maryland and the Orange held on for a 72-70 win.

This loss is disappointing for the Terps but the blueprint for success is clear. As long as they can clean up the turnovers, they will have a chance in a competitive Big Ten conference. This was also a good road test for a young team and they played a very solid game besides the turnovers. The freshman – Fernando and Morsell – were especially impressive for me. I’m looking forward to seeing how much they can contribute this year without having the pressure of carrying the team.

Image Credit: Patrick Semansky / Associated Press

 

Maryland falls to Xavier 76-65 in first round of NCAA tournament

Despite earning a six seed from the selection committee, the Terps could not survive their first round matchup against 11 seeded Xavier, losing 76-65.

The game started with both teams under-performing on offense but the Musketeers were able to make some adjustments and pull away with a 12-0 run.  Maryland took a little longer to find their groove. By the 10 minute mark the Terps were just 2-9 from beyond the arc and were struggling as a whole on offense.

In the NCAA tournament cold streaks are unacceptable. You have to find a way to score even if you are cold and Kevin Huerter was able to do just that by getting to the free throw line on back to back possessions. These free points finally reignited the Maryland offense and brought the Terps back within two.

At the break, the Terps held a slim 36-35 lead. A quick 6-0 run, capped off by a Melo Trimble fast break steal, gave Maryland the lead. Their three-point shooting improved and Xavier turned the ball over a lot down the stretch. Both of these factors combined for a Maryland comeback and a close halftime score.

The momentum stayed in Maryland’s favor as the second half began but a 15-4 run by the Musketeers made the game neck and neck with ten minutes to go. After tying the game up, Xavier stepped on the gas pedal and stretched the lead to 11 in a matter of minutes.

As the clock winded down, the Terps slowly chipped away at the lead and cut it to six with just under three minutes to play.  However, some unnecessary fouls by Maryland quickly put the Musketeers back up with a more comfortable lead. They would hold onto this lead as the final minute concluded and cruise to a 76-65 win.

This concludes the Terps 2017 season. What started as a rebuilding year, ended with a third straight trip to the NCAA tournament for coach Mark Turgeon and Maryland. As the season progressed the freshman starters began to show the common signs of fatigue that come with playing over 30 games in a season.  

Whether or not Melo Trimble returns for his senior year, there is a lot to be excited about for this young Terps team.  The core of Huerter, Cowan, and Jackson will continue to grow and hopefully lead Maryland back to another tournament appearance next year.

Maryland loses to Northwestern 72-64, makes early exit from conference tourney

Maryland made some impressive runs in Friday night’s matchup against Northwestern but couldnt keep the pace and ended up losing 72-64. With the tournament being held in D.C, the crowd of over 20,000 favored the hometown Terrapins greatly but the Wildcats were able to outlast the Terps

Maryland started the game with a consistent attack on the boards, picking up a majority of their points by driving. Unlike many of their recent games, the Terps did not shoot a lot of three pointers. This change in game plan worked well for them too as they pulled out to 14-8 lead by the 13 minute mark.

Maryland also took advantage of nine Northwestern turnovers in the first half. This was a surprising amount considering the Wildcats have averaged just over 10 turnovers a game all season. The Northwestern game plan relied heavily on the three point shot. At the half, the Terps had a slim 36-34 lead but the Wildcats were shooting 50% from beyond the arc.

At the start of the second half, the Terps exploded out of the gate with an 8-0 run and quickly extended their lead to ten. This would end up being Maryland’s biggest lead of the game. The Wildcats went about five minutes without a point during this run but were still able to go on a run of their own and tie the game at 46 by the 12 minute mark.

From here the Maryland offense completely disappeared. Northwestern regained the lead and never gave it back, added to it down the stretch. The game plan that helped the Terps early in the game had been ignored in favor of the unnecessary three point shooting that we have seen recently.  Essentially the shots just weren’t falling.  

The problem was that the Wildcats never slowed down. The three point shooting from the first half continued and played a big role in their lengthy runs. They finished the game 7-15 from three and also dominated the boards, out rebounding the Terps 32-24.

With about two and a half minutes to go, Northwestern held a commanding 64-54 lead and the hostile crowd had been silenced. The fans headed for the exits and the Wildcats set their sights on a matchup with Wisconsin as they closed out a 72-64 victory.

Kevin Huerter had a standout performance for the Terps. The Freshman finished with 19 points, four assists and three steals.  Melo Trimble scored 20 and added six rebounds.

After this loss, the Terps will wait another week before they play again. The national tournament begins on March 16. Maryland will find out their seeding and first round opponent this Sunday night.  

Trimble’s game winner pushes Maryland past Michigan State, 63-60

Maryland closed out the regular season on Saturday with a 63-60 win over Michigan State. Melo Trimble’s late game three-pointer also secured the #3 seed for the Terps in next weeks Big Ten conference tournament.

Both teams played poorly in the first half but with an extremely fast pace. The 28-27 halftime score favored the Spartans, but also showed how many missed opportunities there were for both teams. Maryland shot an abysmal 3-13 from beyond the arc in the first half. Michigan State was much better from three, shooting 50%, but had a low overall shooting percentage of 33%.

Maryland’s leading scorers at halftime were Anthony Cowan and Melo Trimble with six points each. With the three point shooting not falling through, the Terps were able to stay in the game by shooting 6-8 at the free throw line. The Spartans did not shoot any free throws in the first half.

The second half started with some more bricked three’s for Maryland but the offensive rebounding by Dodd and Jackson kept the Terps’ possessions alive and the score close.

Just a few moments later, Anthony Cowan drove to the basket against some tough defense to take back the lead. On the next Maryland possession, Kevin Huerter scored his first points of the game with a big three pointer, bringing the crowd back into the game. Trimble followed with a three of his own and gave the Terps their biggest lead of the afternoon.

Michigan State responded and quickly erased Maryland’s eight point lead at the 10 minute mark. Throughout the entire game, both teams got hot and cold at the same time, causing the score to be tight all afternoon. Neither team was able to pull away for too long. One of these cold streaks came during the final minutes of the game when both teams were tied at 60. Each team had a handful of chances to take the lead but could not score. Layups, jumpers, three pointers, and free throws were all attempted but nothing fell through.

With six seconds to play, Maryland had one last chance to win. The ball was inbounded to Melo Trimble, who raced down the court and put up a desperation three pointer. The shot went through and the Xfinity Center exploded.

After looking at the replay, the refs put one second back on the clock, giving Michigan State a chance to send it to overtime. The Spartans inbound pass was perfect and allowed Miles Bridges to get a clean shot off but the ball hit the front of the rim and the Terps’ celebration resumed.

Trimble finished with 16 points and six rebounds. Since his freshman year there have been many rumors that Trimble would declare for the NBA draft. The rumors have not been as loud this season but the senior day festivities combined with the game-winning shot put everyone in a different mood. The student section chanted “one more year” as Melo left the court, hoping this would not be his final game in College Park.

This win gives Maryland the #3 seed in the Big Ten tournament next week. The Terps will get some much needed rest since they won’t be playing until next Friday. With the tournament being held just a few miles down the road from the University of Maryland, the team can take even more time to prepare instead of traveling.

Terps suffer 83-69 beatdown against Iowa, extend losing streak to three

The Terps came into Saturday’s matchup against Iowa looking to bounce back but suffered a 83-69 loss instead. The loss marks the Terps’ first three-game losing streak of the season.

Both teams came out of the gate with fast paced offenses. Iowa found most of their success from beyond the three-point line, starting the game 6-8. Maryland scored a similar amount but needed twice as many shots to match the Hawkeyes.

This pace of play continued throughout the first half as both teams found success from their three-point heavy offense. As a result, the score remained close. At the break Iowa led 47-40. Both teams scored half of their points with the three ball, shooting a combined 32 three pointers.

At the break, Justin Jackson and Jaylen Brantley led the Terps with eight points each while Tyler Cook led the way for the Hawkeyes with 15 points and seven rebounds.

In the second half, Maryland briefly cut into the deficit but Iowa quickly regained control and extended their lead to 14 by the 15 minute mark. Jordan Bohannon was lights out for the Hawkeyes, knocking down a handful of three pointers during their run.

In an effort to keep up with Iowa, the Terps put up a lot of three pointers. The problem was, they didn’t have the same touch that the Hawkeyes had all night. A lot of these shots were taken early in the shot clock and were just plain unnecessary.

With just over five minutes to play, Iowa took a 77-56 lead and the Xfinity Center erupted with boo’s. The Hawkeyes held onto their lead throughout the final minutes as the sellout crowd headed for the exits. When the final buzzer sounded Iowa had finished off an impressive 83-69 win.

Iowa’s Bohannon finished with 24 points and five assists, shooting 8-10 from beyond the arc. This performance was just a microcosm of the entire Hawkeye team. Yes, Maryland did play poorly but Iowa was unbelievable, especially from beyond the three point line. I could have see them easily winning even if Maryland was on their game.

We knew coming into this game that the Terps would not be ranked on Monday but this loss hurts their resume even more. Getting blown out by a bubble team at home is unacceptable. The final two games just became must win scenarios for Maryland. It starts on Tuesday when the Terps travel to play a last place Rutgers team.