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Maryland basketball storms back to beat Bucknell, 80-78

The Terps erase a 15-point halftime deficit to advance to 4-0.

NCAA Basketball: Barclays Center Classic-Maryland vs Richmond Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland basketball held off Bucknell on Saturday for an 80-78 win, improving to 4-0 for the season.

After a basketball horror show of a first half, the Terps turned on the jets after halftime. Maryland went into the break trailing by 15, then outscored the Bison 43-25 in the second half.

Kevin Huerter finished with 16 points, while freshmen Darryl Morsell and Bruno Fernando added 15 and 14, respectively. Anthony Cowan finished as the Terps’ leading scorer for the fourth straight contest, racking up 17 points, five assists and four rebounds; he made 12 of his 13 free throws.

Senior center Michal Cekovsky, who started the season’s first three games, played just two minutes in the first half. Maryland primarily rode with a smaller lineup, at one point employing Huerter at the four. The Terps still had their way on the boards, bringing down 39 rebounds to Bucknell’s 25.

The teams went back and forth in the opening minutes, with neither holding a lead larger than three points until Bucknell at 23-18 more than 10 minutes in. Bucknell pulled away late in the half, as the lead reached 39-27 with 4:24 left thanks to a 9-0 run. Maryland’s offense picked back up as the half approached, but the defense couldn’t stop the bleeding, as the Bison took a 50-35 lead into the locker room.

The Bison made seven of their 10 three-point shots in the first half, while Maryland went 0-for-5 in the period. Bucknell finished the half shooting 65 percent as a team, while the Terps could muster just 41 percent.

Maryland came out with a renewed energy in the second half, scoring the first six points and going on a 10-3 run, keyed on both ends by Morsell. Back-to-back threes by Cowan and Dion Wiley—Maryland’s first triples of the night—made it a four-point game shortly after the under-16 timeout.

The charge took just over 10 minutes to complete, as Huerter splashed a three-pointer to give Maryland a 63-61 lead with 9:58 remaining. Bucknell didn’t roll over, though, reclaiming the lead at 65-64 and tying it back up at 68-68. It was a nail-biter down the stretch.

A 74-72 Maryland lead held from the 4:14 mark until the final minute, when Kevin Huerter was fouled and made one of two free throws. Bucknell’s game-tying attempt didn’t fall, and Anthony Cowan made a pair of foul shots to make it a five-point game. It’d get down to three in the last five seconds, then two in the last second, and an offensive foul by Morsell gave the Bison the ball with 0.5 seconds remaining.

Maryland hosts Jackson State on Monday night at 7 p.m. ET.

Three things to know

1. Maryland looked lost in the first half. The offense couldn’t get in a rhythm, and Bucknell couldn’t miss from anywhere. Nothing worked. Incredibly, most of these things were corrected after halftime, but it was the first time Maryland has had an extended lapse this season.

2. Justin Jackson’s offensive game was out there somewhere. The sophomore didn’t have a point until the middle of the second half, putting him on his way to three straight quiet offensive performances. But he finished with seven points in the second period, and his first three of the season gave Maryland a 71-68 lead. He’s still been a force on the glass, hauling in a team-high 10 rebounds Saturday.

3. Darryl Morsell is the real deal. When Maryland needed a spark, the freshman provided it emphatically. He scored six of the team’s first eight second-half points and finished the period with 12. Even though his offensive foul in the last second gave the Bison a chance they should never have had, the Terps don’t complete this comeback without him.