Maryland basketball saw its double-digit lead over Ohio State shrink to just five points with under three minutes to go, and what seemed like an easy win was going down to the wire.
Ohio State’s Marc Loving hit a three-pointer to make it 77-72 with 2:43 left, and Maryland looked to be in trouble.
Maryland’s response initially didn’t work very well. After a couple passes on the perimeter, center Ivan Bender ended up with the ball at the elbow. He tossed it back out to Huerter. He passed to Cowan, who gave it back with three seconds left on the shot clock.
Huerter readied himself, squared up to the basket, and shot in one fluid motion right over Jae’Sean Tate’s outstretched arms to make it 80-72 with 2:09 left.
“It was a really cool moment,” Huerter said. “Tate was kinda smiling right too after I hit it.”
But Ohio State responded. Kam Williams drilled a corner three on the next possession to make it 80-75.
The whole narrative around the game was changing. This had been on track to become Maryland’s first comfortable win in a while. Now it was in danger of becoming another last-minute collapse.
Maryland’s next possession didn’t go according to plan either. The Terps couldn’t get the ball inside, and Cowan again had the ball on the perimeter with the shot clock about to expire. This time, he didn’t give it up. He confidently stepped into another long three, and firmly squished Ohio State’s opportunity for a comeback.
“I saw there wasn’t anything there,” Cowan said. “I didn’t want to get a shot clock violation, so I wanted to make sure I got a shot up. I just saw the defender kind of bouncing back a little bit, thinking I was gonna drive, and then I pulled up.”
His shot brought Maryland’s lead back up to eight with 41 seconds left. Cowan sunk two free throws before the game ended, and the Terps left Xfinity Center unscathed.
The two shots were shockingly similar, but they came from extremely different shooters. Huerter has a reputation that suggests his three-point percentage of 39 will only keep rising, while Cowan’s struggled from deep, only hitting 27 percent.
“Our offense wasn’t great, their defense was good,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “To be honest with you, I thought they were both going in when they shot it. Anthony had rhythm. He hit two threes earlier, he hit free throws.”
Aside from hitting those two shots, Cowan and Huerter drove Maryland’s offense in the second half. Cowan scored 16 of his 19 points after halftime, and that’s when Huerter poured in 11 of his 18.
Melo Trimble was often left to the role of closer during the Terps’ nonconference schedule. He didn’t make a field goal in the second half on Saturday, but Maryland’s freshmen made up the difference.
Cowan and Huerter weren’t just there at the end. In a game when Melo Trimble only scored one point in the second half, the Terps’ freshmen picked him up.
Even though he sat out for a stretch in the first half due to foul trouble, Cowan finished with four assists and three rebounds. He went 3-for-5 from the field and was 10-for-10 from the foul line. He attacked the rim and helped force Buckeye players into foul trouble. Ohio State had three players foul out, and Cowan’s consistent attack on the rim helped make that happen.
“We know Anthony can do a lot more than just score the ball,” Huerter said. “Most of the time he’s guarding the other team’s best player. He’s finding guys, setting other people up, getting in the lane and coming off their bigs.”
Huerter kept Maryland’s lead in double digits at the beginning of the second half. He scored seven of the team’s first 13 points after the break, and added four rebounds and three assists. But in the end, those back-to-back threes are what allowed Maryland to avoid a three-game losing streak ahead of its toughest week of the season.
“We just made more shots at the end,” Huerter said, “and luckily we didn’t have to go right down to the wire.”