Maryland captures elusive road win by taking down Northwestern 71-64

It was not pretty and the second half certainly wasn’t clean, but in the end the Maryland Terrapins pulled out their second road win of the season by taking down Northwestern 71-64.

With these two teams meeting just nine days ago, there was some familiarity when they stepped on the court Monday night. The Wildcats were coming off of a devastating loss to Michigan State in which they lead the Spartans by 27 but still managed to lose 65-60. Maryland, on the other hand, has enjoyed a decent amount of success in recent games while winning three of their last five.

The Terrapins shot over 50% from the field in Monday’s win over Northwestern but got a great deal of offensive production from some players who usually remain quiet. Michael Cekovsky has not started much since returning from injury but still provides the team with a nice boost off of the bench.

It’s not often that Maryland has an advantage under the basket but Cekovsky didn’t waste anytime using that to his benefit when he came off the bench in the first half. The 7-foot-6-inch senior dominated the rim with three dunks and four rebounds in the first half.

Dion Wiley also came through with one of his more flashy performances of the year. Mark Turgeon has given Wiley an opportunity to start a lot of games over the past few weeks but he has stuck to his role as a facilitator for the most part. On Monday, the junior from Oxon Hill dropped 13 while adding three rebounds and a pair of steals.

Kevin Huerter would finish with 18 points and four assists to lead the Maryland offense. He was also responsible for three of the Terrapins five three pointers in the game. It was interesting to see Maryland shy away from the deep shots especially in the first half when the Wildcats were flourishing from beyond the arc. Chris Collins’ team shot 15 three pointers in the first half and managed to sink eight of them to take a 37-30 lead at the break.

However, that previously mentioned height difference between each teams big men helped the Terps keep pace with Northwestern early and eventually pull away. I am also a little surprised with just how fast the Terps played at points, especially in the second half. With the regular season coming to a close, I would have guessed that most of the team would be drained from playing extended minutes all year. Instead, Maryland did a lot of their scoring in transition and appeared to fluster the Wildcats down the stretch.

Maryland’s 41 point second half was fun to watch mainly because of their consistency. There were no scoring droughts as the Terps spent the full 20 minuets battling to either get even or hold on to a slim lead. Just like their game against Rutgers on Saturday, Maryland did a good job of closing the game out with a lead as well. Northwestern started intentionally fouling a little earlier than expected and the Terrapins took advantage by going 6-6 from the line to put the game on ice.

This second road win has been a long time coming for the Terps. There have been a lot of close calls since they took down Illinois in overtime earlier this season but they could never quiet get it done. I was happy to see Maryland thrive away from home but I can’t help but think about Northwestern’s arena situation.

The Wildcats have been relocated to the Allstate Arena this season while their normal home gets renovated. This has resulted in a lack of home court advantage for Northwestern. Just look at this picture of their student section from tonight’s game. None the less, the Terps found a win outside of the Xfinity Center and that all that matters.

Maryland will honor their senior players this Saturday as Michigan makes a trip to College Park. Big wins have eluded the Terps all season but they will get one more crack at it as the Wolverines are currently sitting at No. 17 in the AP rankings.

Image credit: Jim Young / AP

Advertisements

Terps are good as gold in 73-57 win over Northwestern

Coming off of a 74-70 loss to Penn State, the Maryland Terrapins needed a good performance to jump-start the final stretch of their season. With the Northwestern Wildcats in town on Saturday, the Terps were able to put together one of their best all around games in conference play for a convincing 73-57 win.

Kevin Huerter led the way with 22 points but there was no shortage of offensive production for Maryland. In Wednesday’s loss against the Nittany Lions, Maryland played great on offense but didn’t find an answer for Penn State’s shooters. Saturday’s win over Northwestern felt like the natural progression from Wednesday as the Terps added a great defensive performance to accompany the scoring.

Three other Maryland starters finished with double-digit scoring numbers. Darryl Morsell continues to stand out among that group. I saw him grind out some tough baskets against Penn State and he continued to play very well against the Wildcats with 14 points while going 7-10 from the field. As a freshman playing more minutes than he expected, Morsell continues to improve every time he steps on the court. Even though Huerter and Anthony Cowan scored more points, Morsell was the anchor for the Terps with three assists and nine rebounds.

Maryland finished the game shooting just under 53% from the field. Right from the opening tip the Terps looked primed for a great offensive afternoon. Huerter scored 12 of his 22 points in the first five minutes while going 3-3 from beyond the arc and the team continued to shoot over 50% for a majority of the game.

As I said earlier, Maryland was also very locked in on defense. The Wildcats struggled to get open looks all afternoon and only remained in the game thanks to some decent three-point shooting. The Terps racked up seven blocks and forced 13 turnovers to fluster the Wildcats. Northwestern would finish the game shooting 33% with just seven assists as a team.

I think one of the biggest defensive accomplishments for Maryland was keeping Bryant McIntosh under control. The Wildcats senior point guard has given the Terps a lot of trouble in the past but couldn’t even get on the board in Saturdays contest. McIntosh went 0-5 with just one assist and three turnovers.

After watching these past two games, it’s clear that Maryland’s success moving forward will depend on the their ability to share the ball. The team’s top scorers are playing close to a full 40 mins every three to four days and simply can’t be relied on to shoot the ball over 15 times a game. With guys like Morsell, Dion Wiley and Jared Nickens putting together good offensive performances, the pressure can come off of Cowan and Huerter. The Terps offense has definitely been running a lot smoother recently with 30 of their last 52 baskets coming via an assist.

Up next for the Terps is a trip to Lincoln Nebraska to take on the Cornhuskers. Nebraska is currently on the fringe of qualifying for a trip to the NCAA tournament so they cannot afford to drop one at home. Maryland has also struggled on the road this season, winning just one game away from home in Big Ten play.

Image credit: Nick Wass / AP

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 drops 32 as Maryland gets big road win against Northwestern

On Wednesday the Maryland Terrapins picked up what could be their best win of the season when they defeated Northwestern 74-64.

Coming into Wednesday, the Wildcats certainly had the most to gain. On Saturday they defeated a top ten Wisconsin team and they had another opportunity to knock off a ranked opponent. Their offense got started with an emphatic dunk, bringing the crowd to an early crescendo, but the Terps responded with a quick 9-0 run to take control of the game.

Northwestern’s troubles didn’t stop there when star point guard, Brian McIntosh, found himself on the bench with two fouls in the game’s first three minutes. With the Wildcats struggling to get any offense going, there were plenty of opportunities for Maryland to take advantage. Northwestern was taking terrible shots, and when they did get an easy layup opportunity, they missed.

trimble

Melo Trimble scored a career high 32 points in Wednesdays win over Northwestern

Playing on the road against Northwestern, a lead of any size is a great thing but the Terps were able to gain an 10-point lead by the end of the half. Maryland took advantage of the Wildcats’ sloppy play and were able to find an effective pace. Every Terrapin rebound was instantly passed towards midcourt where Trimble or Cowan would be waiting to run with it. Northwestern was unable to adjust to this fast pace and simply didn’t have the offense to keep things close.

Early in the second half, the Wildcats came through with a much better offensive attack. Maryland was able to keep their double digit lead by taking smarter shots and switching up the pace. When the Wildcats started to come to life, you could sense that they wanted to run like Maryland did in the first half. However, the Terps continued to dictate the pace and slow things down as Northwestern attempted to come back.

 

With a little over 10 minutes remaining, the Terps stomped on the gas peddle and extended their lead to 20. Northwestern would not go out quietly though. The Wildcats clawed their way back and made it a nine point game with two minutes to play. This brought the crowd back into the game but it was too little too late as Maryland went to the free throw line and closed out an impressive 74-64 victory.

There were plenty of impressive stats to look at after this win but you gotta give it up for Melo Trimble. This is the type of game where you look to your older players to lead the way. In a hostile environment at a crucial point in the season, Trimble did just that. The junior finished the game with a career high 32 points and shot 4-5 from beyond the arc.

Coming into this week we knew that Maryland was going to be playing two of their toughest games of the season.  Realistically, I thought they would lose both games but tonight’s win has given me a more optimistic view on the Terps’ future. Sunday’s matchup against Wisconsin is sure to be a great one and will have major implications on the Big Ten standings.