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Maryland basketball fades down stretch, falls 62-60 at Purdue

The Terps drop to 1-1 in their early pair of Big Ten games.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland men’s basketball fell for just the second time this season, falling to Purdue, 62-60, on the road. It’s the No. 23 Terps’ (7-2, 1-1 Big Ten) first conference loss, as it finishes its December conference games .500.

The Terps found themselves down 59-56 with a little over a minute left in a game that had all the makings of a heat-of-the-season conference contest. Purdue’s defense dialed up the heat, forcing three straight possessions to end in either shot clock violations or a turnover late. The Terps still had one final chance at the buzzer, but Anthony Cowan Jr.’s last-second heave was blocked by Nojel Eastern.

Cowan ended as Maryland’s leading scorer with 18 points, adding six assists and four rebounds. Darryl Morsell joined Cowan in double digits with 12, while Bruno Fernando just missed a fourth-straight double-double with nine points and 13 rebounds. Carsen Edwards continued to pace Purdue on the other side, ending with 20 points, and Aaron Wheeler stepped up with a surprise 15 points.

Maryland opened the game strong, starting 4-of-5 from three. The Terps built a 18-10 lead by starting 4-of-5 from three, but then went scoreless for more than five minutes. The defense held fairly well during that span, though, holding the lead before Purdue tied the game at 21. Edwards scored all of his 10 first-half points in a four minute span, but was quiet the rest of the period. Maryland opened up a seven-point lead just before the half, but Wheeler nailed a three in the final seconds to make it a 34-30 game at the break.

Five different players had at least five points at the half for the Terps as Morsell led the way with seven, Aaron Wiggins and Bruno Fernando added six each, and Anthony Cowan and Jalen Smith chipped in five points a piece. The Terps’ turnover woes followed them early, as the Maryland had nine first half turnovers that turned into 11 Purdue points. Maryland was only able to turn 10 Boilermakers’ turnovers into nine points of its own.

After starting hot from beyond the arc, Maryland hit just 1-of-8 the rest of the half, with the Wiggins three as the only make, to go 5-of-13 from deep through 20 minutes. They held the Boilermakers nearly quiet the three-point line, on the flip side, as Purdue entered the locker room just 2-of-15 from three.

Edwards nailed a three out of the half to cut the lead to one, and it would stay within one possession for most of the rest of the half. Fernando nailed his first three of the season to put the Terps ahead by six, but Purdue tied it with two straight threes by 7’3 Matt Haarms and Grady Eifert.

That set the stage for a back-and-forth battle down the stretch. Purdue took the lead out of the under-12, going ahead for the first time since the score was 8-7 at the fist media timeout. It was brief, though, as Wiggins hit his third triple of the night to put Maryland back ahead. The game tied twice more shortly after, and after Cowan put Maryland back ahead with a jumper, Edwards gave Purdue the lead on a triple shortly after the under-8 timeout.

Edwards finding his shot opened up lanes for his teammates, and he had two straight assists as the Boilermakers opened up a five-point lead. Maryland’s offense also stagnated before Smith hit a long jumper to make it 59-56 at the final media timeout. From there it was just free throws en route to the final score, neither team had a field goal in the last five minutes.

It’s Maryland’s fifth straight loss to Purdue and its first road loss of the season. The Terps will have a short turnaround before facing Loyola-Chicago in Baltimore on Saturday.

Three things to know

1. Maryland’s hot start from three didn’t last. The Terps have been a pedestrian three-point shooting team going in to this game, hitting at just a 30.7 percent clip this season. But Maryland started the game 4-of-5, and Ricky Lindo hit his first three of the season. Part of that was due to Purdue’s lackluster perimeter defense, but the Terps came back to Earth as the game went on. Maryland ended the game just 9-of-27.

2. Turnovers were a killer again. Going into the game, head coach Mark Turgeon labeled turnovers a “huge concern” and said the team can’t expect to turn the ball over “17 or 18” times and expect to win. The Terps had 17 and ended up on the wrong side of the scoreboard. Purdue had 16 of its own, but Maryland’s turnovers were turned into 16 points for the Boilermakers, while scoring just 12 points of its own of turnovers.

3. Maryland’s lack of depth is starting to hurt. The top-heaviness of the Terps’ production has been well-documented so far this season. Turgeon has had almost a starting six, but on a night where Eric Ayala scored just two points and Cowan struggled shooting, the Terps were down to just five players producing, which wasn’t quite enough.