After dropping back-to-back games on the road, Maryland basketball returned to College Park and to the win column Thursday, downing Minnesota 77-66.
The battle of banged-up squads was close in the first half, but Maryland used a 21-2 run early in the second half to turn the tide. The Terps’ victory brings them to 4-4 in Big Ten play, with all wins over unranked foes and all four losses against teams in the current top 25.
Maryland shot 56 percent from the floor to Minnesota’s 35 percent, and Kevin Huerter led the way by scoring 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Michal Cekovsky went 7-of-10 to add 17, while Darryl Morsell shot 5-of-8 for 13 points. Anthony Cowan had eight assists and six rebounds before scoring his first points in the middle of the second half, but he finished with a double-double of 15 points and 10 assists.
Both offenses started slowly, with Minnesota leading for the majority of the early going. Maryland pulled ahead with a 13-0 run in the middle of the half, as Huerter quickly turned a quiet offensive night into an outburst by scoring 10 points in just over four minutes. The Terps’ lead reached eight points, but they didn’t score in the final 3:29 of the period, allowing Minnesota to make it a 29-28 game at halftime.
Huerter finished the half with 11, while Cowan didn’t score in the opening frame. The Gophers shot just 30 percent as a team in the half, with leading scorers Nate Mason and Jordan Murphy going a combined 5-for-17. Maryland had several hiccups, though, committing eight turnovers and missing several alley-oops.
Minnesota reclaimed the lead to start the second half before a 10-0 Maryland run put the Terps back in front. The Gophers called timeout and snapped the run immediately, but Maryland scored the next 11 to bring its lead well into double-digits by the 12-minute mark.
Maryland remained ahead by double-digits all the way home, although Minnesota got as close as 11 a couple times. When the Gophers started fouling with just under two minutes to go, Maryland didn’t let them back in it. Murphy’s layup in the final seconds tied Huerter’s 19 points, but it was far too little, far too late.
The Terps will hit the road to visit Indiana on Monday with a chance to move back above .500 in the conference. Their next home game is against Michigan State on Jan. 28.
Three things to know
1. Kevin Huerter had his best night in a while. After shooting 8-of-21 in the last two games, the sophomore was a much more efficient 6-of-8 Thursday. He had 14 points in the game’s first 22 minutes and finished with 19, his highest output since the UMBC game on Dec. 29.
2. Maryland played some of its best ball without Bruno Fernando. The freshman was in foul trouble all night and picked up his third personal less than a minute into the second half. Maryland’s 21-2 run came entirely with him on the bench. It helped that Cekovsky was throwing down nearly everything thrown his way and Joshua Tomaic was steady across the board in his absence. It’s the first time Maryland has won without a big impact from Fernando since the new year.
3. Anthony Cowan did a little of everything. The sophomore point guard is Maryland’s leading scorer, but didn’t have a point for the game’s first 28 minutes. By that time, though, he already had six boards and eight assists. He had a double-double by the 3:27 mark and finished with 15 second-half points.