For the first time since December, Maryland basketball picked up a win on the road, beating Northwestern 71-64 in Rosemont, Illinois, on Monday night.
Kevin Huerter led the Terps with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting, while Anthony Cowan Jr. added 13 points, four rebounds and four assists. Dion Wiley was an efficient 4-of-7 from the field for 13 points of his own. Still without senior point guard Bryant McIntosh, the Wildcats relied heavily on Scottie Lindsey and Dererk Pardon, who carried Northwestern with 15 and 14 points, respectively.
The first half had a bit of just about everything. Northwestern jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead, drilling each of its first three triples, but Maryland roared back to take a 15-9 lead. The Wildcats surpassed their second-half output against Michigan State from Saturday (they scored 11 points) in just under nine minutes.
There was no hangover heading into Monday night, as Northwestern hit eight first-half threes en route to a 37-point outburst. The Terps led 28-27 with four and a half minutes left in the first half before the Wildcats exploded for a 10-0 run to take a 37-30 advantage to the break.
Michal Cekovsky and Bruno Fernando were the catalysts for Maryland early on. The Terps had 16 points in the paint at halftime; each center threw down some powerful dunks. At the break, Cekovsky led the team with eight points, while Fernando and Huerter were right on his heels with seven apiece.
Northwestern picked up in the second half right where it left off in the first, expanding its seven-point lead to as many as 11 in the first minute of the half. Fernando picked up his third foul just two minutes into the second half. Mark Turgeon has credited his recent performances to smarter play and the 6’10 big man staying out of foul trouble.
A quick 6-0 run brought Maryland back within three as the Terps started to employ a soft three-quarter-court pressure after made baskets. It didn’t force any turnovers, but was enough to slow the Wildcats down and take them out of their rhythm. Scottie Lindsey and Cowan traded threes heading into the under-12 media timeout to make it 52-49 Northwestern.
A steal from Cowan, followed by a full-court pass to Morsell and a drop off pass to Wiley brought the Terps within one before a Wiley steal and fast-break layup put Maryland up 55-54. It was another 6-0 run from the Terps, who now led for the first time since there were four and a half minutes left in the first half.
Maryland continued its surge with another steal and an NBA-range Huerter triple. Pardon threw down a dunk on the other end, but the Terps barrage wasn’t finished. Morsell and Fernando hit layups and Wiley hit a corner three to build the lead to nine. Pardon answered again with a layup and a foul heading into the under-4 media timeout, but missed the free-throw on the other side.
The 16-4 run was all the Terps needed to take a commanding lead and never look back. The teams traded baskets down the stretch, but the Wildcats were unable to mount any sort of comeback.
Maryland will be back in action on Saturday at noon against Michigan on ESPN to close out the regular season.
Three things to know
1. The state of Illinois is the key to road wins. The last Maryland basketball road win before this one came in December at Illinois in Champaign. The Terps have been close since then, but didn’t come away with a win until returning to Illinois and winning in Rosemont.
2. Dion Wiley came up big in the second half. The Terps have gone mostly as Cowan and Huerter—and to a lesser extent, Fernando—have gone this season, but Wiley was a key part of Maryland’s win Monday night, adding 13 points.
3. Maryland has a chance to finish at .500 in Big Ten play. A win Saturday against Michigan would give the Terps a 9-9 conference record, and while it likely won’t be enough to help them into the NCAA Tournament, it’s the smallest of silver linings.