With 9:10 remaining in Maryland’s game Wednesday against Minnesota, the Terps entered the bonus and were granted two free throws. Anthony Cowan sank the pair, bringing Maryland within one point after a back-and-forth start to the second half.
But 61-60 quickly turned into 70-60, as the Terps missed nine of their next 10 shot attempts. Minnesota’s lead remained in double digits down the stretch.
It’s an increasingly familiar story for Maryland, which has been plagued by such offensive droughts all season. Those stretches proved costly in recent losses to Purdue and Penn State, and although a 19-1 run didn’t down the Terps when they won at Minnesota in January, the 20-6 Gopher run in Wednesday’s second half did.
“We had some good looks there,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon told reporters after the game. “Missed some and weren’t able to penetrate the way we wanted. We weren’t able to score around the basket the way we wanted.”
Maryland found itself lacking a reliable inside scoring presence without Michal Cekovsky. Ivan Bender scored 12 points in the first half, but Minnesota limited him to only three in the second. It didn’t help that the guards were often sloppy on drives and struggled to draw fouls late.
Instead, the Terps started to settle for outside shots. During a six-minute stretch in the second half, Maryland shot threes on eight consecutive trips. Only one of those went down.
The Terps finished Wednesday’s game 7-of-27 from three (26 percent), and they’ve shot worse than 28 percent from beyond the arc in four of their six losses.
A figure like that is always a group effort. Cowan and fellow freshman Kevin Huerter went 1-of-4 and 1-of-5, respectively. Melo Trimble went 1-of-6, and it was his shooting that vaulted Maryland past Northwestern and kept the team close at Wisconsin.
Minnesota, meanwhile, was money. The Gophers shot 55 percent from the field, 40 percent from deep and 88 percent from the line in the second half. When Akeem Springs wasn’t hitting back-breaking triples, teammate Dupree McBrayer was.
“They were running one play for [point guard Nate Mason] and we were zoning up,” Bender said, “and guards were wide open, so they made shots and they got away and got a lead.”
When the Terps fell behind, they had to play catch-up, and could never get into a rhythm. Before long, the game was out of reach.
“It happened so fast,” Turgeon said. “You’re right there and then you’re down 10. ... They were good. They were hard to guard. They were moving at a high speed and we could never catch up. Because we were down, we were going way too fast offensively.”