Maryland basketball came back in the second half to beat the Illinois Fighting Illini, 62-56, on the road Saturday. A slow started ended in a strong finish for the Terps, who are now an impressive 16-2.
Jaylen Brantley was a second-half spark plug for the Terps, and his 12 points pushed Maryland ahead late for the win. It was a big night for all three of the Terps’ guards, as they finished 1-2-3 in scoring. Melo Trimble finished with 12, and Anthony Cowan had 19.
The Terps got off to a slow scoring start, suffering as Damonte Dodd and Justin Jackson picked up two early fouls. Already limited with Michal Cekovsky missing the game, Mark Turgeon was forced to play unorthodox lineups that couldn’t click in the opening half.
Leron Black capitalized on the injured and foul-ridden Maryland frontcourt, pouring in 11 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting in the half. He also pulled down six rebounds to lead the Illini.
Maryland was led by Trimble in the first half, though he struggled a bit, missing four consecutive open threes. But the junior finished with 10 first-half points. His steal in the closing seconds of the half cut what was an 11-point deficit to just five.
The triples started to fall midway through the second half. Brantley and Cowan combined to hit 3-of-4 in a three-minute stretch to bring Maryland within one at the 12-minute mark. Brantley went on a 10-0 run himself to give the Terps a lead they wouldn’t lose.
Brantley finished the half with all 12 points, and was the single biggest difference-maker in what had looked to be a loss on the road for Maryland. He really picked up when Trimble, who finished the game shooting 5-of-16, started to struggle.
The Terps tried to make the game closer than it had to be, though. The team shot poorly at the line, connecting on just 10-of-20 attempts. But like they usually do, the Terps were able to close the game out with strong guard play.
Maryland will travel to Iowa on Thursday to play a second consecutive road game.
Three things to know
- Maryland needs Michal Cekovsky back soon. The center has missed five consecutive games, and with the Terps’ other bigs in foul trouble or just plain struggling, he was missed. He took his walking boot off this week, so his return should be sooner than later.
- Jaylen Brantley was on fire. At this point in the season, Brantley has solidified himself as this team’s sixth man. It’s wild to think a year ago he struggled to find consistent minutes.
- Dion Wiley sat again. Is it a back injury? Has he just fallen out of the rotation? Things are unclear there, but it seems the Terps could use some minutes from him.