ANNAPOLIS, Md. — It wasn’t pretty, but Maryland basketball is 2-0 after a 78-57 win over Navy in the Veterans Classic on Friday night.
On a night where the Terps’ offense went through some severe dry spells, Anthony Cowan Jr. was the steady hand, scoring a game-high 24 points and dishing out six assists. Three other players scored in double figures: Darryl Morsell had 15, Aaron Wiggins had 12 and Jalen Smith chipped in 11. Bruno Fernando finished with nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Maryland shot just 42 percent on the night, which was buoyed by 55 percent shooting in the second half. The Terps held Navy to just 36 percent shooting for the game, which was helped by a 7-for-10 hot streak to start the second half. When Maryland wasn’t clicking on offense, the Terps kept the Midshipmen at bay from the foul line, hitting 10 of 12 free throws in the first half and 23 of 27 for the game.
Maryland hit its first two shots to start the game, then returned to its poor shooting woes against Delaware for the rest of the half. The Terps started the game hitting four of their first eight shots, but hit just three of their next 18 from the field.
Once again, Maryland struggled to execute against a zone defense in the first half. The Terps shot just 31 percent from the field over the first 20 minutes, a slight improvement from the 29 percent in the second half against Delaware. A big reason for the struggles was another poor night of three-point shooting, as Maryland settled against Navy’s defense and finished 5-for-23 from beyond the arc.
Despite its poor shooting, Maryland never let Navy get within four points the rest of the half due to strong defense. The Midshipmen tried to get open looks by setting picks to create mismatches, which had limited results. Navy shot 26 percent in the first half and never settled into a rhythm in offense.
Maryland extended its lead to double digits three times in the first half, and led 33-25 at halftime.
A quick 7-0 Navy run after halftime cut the Terps’ lead to one, and Mark Turgeon called a timeout to stop the bleeding. Smith hit two free throws to push the lead back to three, only for George Kiernan to tie the game with a three-pointer on the other end of the floor. Both teams traded points on their next two possessions, but then Maryland scored five straight, including a big three from Cowan, to push the lead to 44-39. A quick layup from Cam Davis cut the lead to three, but a 10-3 run including some nice hustle plays from both Cowan and Morsell pushed the lead back to double digits.
Navy hung around for a few more minutes until a 12-0 run pushed Maryland’s lead to 72-52 with 2:49 remaining. Everything after that was a formality.
Maryland is back in action Monday against North Carolina A&T at 7 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
Three things to know
1. Maryland kept Navy at arms length for most of the game. For a few minutes to start the second half, it looked like the Midshipmen could actually take advantage of a cold shooting night for the Terps. Until late in the second half, Maryland did just enough offensively.
2. Anthony Cowan put the game away. The junior was all over the floor most of the night, and made sure Navy wouldn’t rally back into the game in the final minutes. Before checking out of the game for good with 1:20 remaining, he scored six of Maryland’s last eight points when he was on the floor. Cowan overcame a slow shooting start to finish 8-of-15 from the floor, although he was just 2-of-9 from deep.
3. Three-point shots are still brick city. Maryland shot 5-for-23 on three-pointers Friday night, and is now 7-for-42 in its first two games. The Terps have the size and talent down low to play inside-out, but they can’t do that without consistent three-point shooting.