Maryland basketball came up just short in a roller coaster of a game Monday at Michigan, with the Wolverines coming back in the second half and winning 68-67 in the final seconds.
Kevin Huerter, after being mostly a non-factor until the game’s final two minutes, hit a three-pointer with 3.5 seconds remaining to give Maryland its first lead since early in the second half. The Terps led 67-66 when Michigan inbounded the ball over half court to Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who drove straight to the basket and was tripped and fouled by Bruno Fernando with 1.2 seconds remaining. The senior hit both free throws to put the Wolverines ahead 68-67 as Huerter’s last-second, desperation three went begging at the buzzer.
Anthony Cowan scored a game-high 24 points while dishing out four assists and pulling down five rebounds. His outstanding personal effort wasn’t enough to help Maryland over Michigan, as Moritz Wagner added 18 of his own on 6-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-6 from downtown.
A sick Fernando spent the first four and a half minutes on the bench, while Jared Nickens started in his place alongside Cowan, Darryl Morsell, Huerter and Michal Cekovsky. Despite the smaller group of starters, the Terps owned the paint and the boards early on. Ten minutes into the first half, Maryland had out-rebounded Michigan 14-5. That would extend to 22-12 by halftime. Morsell was the team’s leading rebounder at the break, pulling down six missed shots.
With Fernando and Joshua Tomaic rotating in off the bench, Maryland controlled the game’s first 20 minutes. The Terps led 30-20 heading into the locker room, despite only forcing one Wolverine turnover. Cowan led both teams with 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting, including a couple late-in-the-shot-clock NBA-range three-pointers.
Maryland did a good job running shooters off the three-point line, forcing Michigan to shoot 2-for-9 from beyond the arc. Even with a seven-man rotation, the Terps seemed fully in control on the road against one of the conference’s best teams.
Then the second half started.
The Wolverines opened the second frame on a 10-0 run, while Maryland missed three shots and turned the ball over thrice in six possessions. The game was tied in just three minutes. Unlike Maryland’s last game, the Terps responded with a run of their own, scoring seven unanswered points to retake a 37-30 lead.
Then Michigan hit five three-pointers on five possessions. The onslaught was overwhelming, but only put them up by one at the under-12 media timeout. The shooting spree continued after the break, though, as Michigan hit two more threes in the next two minutes. The lead extended to eight after a well-placed lob went right through Cekovsky’s hands and Jon Teske hit a layup and was fouled on the other end.
Maryland trailed 57-49 at the under-8 media timeout, which officially put it in the danger zone. With the rotation down to seven and Reese Mona occasionally checking in off the bench, there was no unplayed card for the Terps.
Cowan wasn’t going down without a fight, though. He pulled his squad back within five with a one-in-10 kind of layup with just under four minutes remaining. Huerter made an appearance, hitting two threes and a pair of free throws that would give Maryland a one-point lead with 3.5 seconds remaining. It ultimately wasn’t enough, as Abdur-Rahkman hit two free throws in the game’s final seconds to take the lead for the final time.
The Terps will be back in action Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. against Minnesota at the Xfinity Center on FS1 in what will be a must-win game.
Three things to know
1. This was a tale of two halves. Maryland controlled the game’s first 20 minutes. It’s hard to tell if Michigan did anything much different other than make what felt like all of its shots in the second half, but either way it was enough for an offensive explosion.
2. Huerter’s off night was costly. After a rough night against Ohio State, Huerter’s struggles continued Monday as the sophomore shot just 4-of-11 from the field for 12 points. But he still made the Terps’ biggest shot of the night, and even though it didn’t prove to be the winner, it was an exciting moment.
3. Cowan won’t quit. When things turn south like this, it’s easy to just throw in the towel. Cowan played every minute of tonight’s game and put up a game-high 24 points.