Maryland basketball ended a three-game losing skid Sunday with a 68-63 victory over Wisconsin. It was a roller coaster of a game, with the Terps leading 33-23 at halftime before a back-and-forth second half. Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter scored 23 and 19 points, respectively, and teamed up to lift the Terps down the stretch.
After a rough January left Maryland 4-7 in Big Ten play, this was a needed win to begin a somewhat easier February schedule. Here’s what happened that allowed the Terps to re-enter the win column.
The Terps hit their free throws.
Thomas: Maryland picked a good time for its best free-throw shooting performance of the season. The Terps shoot 74.2 percent at the stripe as a team, but had a few off nights that kept opponents in games. But they drained 18 of 19 foul shots Sunday, good for a season-best 94.7 percent clip. Cowan and Huerter went a combined 12-of-12, making six free throws each, while Darryl Morsell, Bruno Fernando and Sean Obi combined to go 6-of-7 (Morsell had the lone miss).
Cowan sank four free throws in the final 11 seconds to ice the game, stretching Maryland’s one-point lead into a final margin of five. But it took a full game of strong foul shooting for the Terps to have that lead in the first place.
“We only won by five, so those free throws were a big difference,” Cowan said after the game. “I don’t think we’ve been shooting them as good of late, so we needed every one of those today.”
Sean Obi made a difference off the bench.
Lamar: The Duke grad transfer has had a rough season. Since his introduction to Maryland fans, he’s struggled to carve out a true role for himself. With Michal Cekovsky out for the last two games, though, Mark Turgeon has been forced to dial Obi’s number more than usual. Against Purdue, Obi fouled out in eight minutes with no shot attempts and just two rebounds and two turnovers.
On Sunday against Wisconsin, he heard his name chanted by the crowd by the end of his first nine-minute stint. He scored three points, all on an and-one play, added six rebounds and guarded Ethan Happ without fouling before going to the bench with “Obi” chants as the backdrop.
“Sean was terrific,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “We couldn’t double [Happ]. They made us pay when we doubled, we weren’t reacting. Every mistake we made in the first half, they made us pay. ... So, ‘Alright Sean, you got him.’ Sean was able to do a great job.”
Cowan and Huerter were as solid as could be.
Jared: Maryland has gone as the sophomore duo has this season. In desperate need of a win, Cowan and Huerter combined for 42 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, a steal and only two turnovers. They played all but a combined four minutes of Sunday’s win, and came up clutch in crunch time, scoring each of the team’s final 10 points.
“They just kind of fed off each other,” Turgeon said. “Kevin made some big time plays. I thought Anthony’s three from behind the ball screen was huge when we were down two.
“We let them do their thing ... Just try to get into ball screens for those guys. We felt like the ball screen was ... the best thing today for us offensively. Anthony and Kevin just really did some great things out there.”