It wasn’t easy, but Maryland basketball kept its winning streak alive with a 64-60 victory over Wisconsin on Monday night.
The Terps (15-3, 6-1 Big Ten) played stifling defense on the Badgers early, allowing them to slowly build a lead then keep Wisconsin out of reach in the first half. But the Terps’ offense lagged over the second half, allowing Wisconsin to whittle a 19-point lead to three by the final media timeout. Nate Reuvers tied the game at 57 with a three after the break, robbing Maryland of any momentum it had left.
A corner triple from Brad Davison put Wisconsin ahead with , but Anthony Cowan Jr. retook the lead and momentum with a late-shot clock three to give Maryland a 62-60 advantage with 40 seconds left. After a Reuvers missed three, Darryl Morsell made one of two free throws to put the Terps up three with 33 seconds left. Maryland defended well on the initial try forcing a timeout, but left Reuvers wide open for one last try and was fortunate it didn’t fall. Cowan nailed one more free throw to bring it to the final.
Four players finished in double figures for the Terps, led by Cowan, who scored 19 of his 21 in the second half. Eric Ayala and Bruno Fernando joined him in double figures, scoring 11 and 10 points, respectively, and the latter missing out on a double-double due to foul trouble. Jalen Smith nearly had one with 11 points and seven rebounds, while Ricky Lindo had no points, but finished with a team-high nine rebounds.
Impressive second-half performances from Nate Reuvers and D’Mitrik Trice helped the Badgers get back into the game with Ethan Happ and Brad Davison struggling. Reuvers scored all of his career-high 18 in the second half, while Trice added 13. Happ and Davison would make it to double figures, finishing with 10 and 11, respectively.
Maryland came out aggressive on the offensive end looking to avoid another slow start and it paid off. The Terps led 8-6 at the first media timeout keyed by two Fernando assists. The Badgers sent the double team as soon as he got close to the paint, and he burnt it twice finding Ayala and Darryl Morsell for threes on consecutive possessions. Smith joined the three point party minutes later, expanding the lead to 15-8.
Fernando put his stamp on the game over the next stretch, scoring twice, kicking out to Aaron Wiggins for another triple and engineering a couple stops to force a Wisconsin timeout. The sophomore scored or assisted on seven points of a 9-0 run that put Maryland up 24-10 at the under-8 timeout. It was part of a larger 18-3 run that expanded the Terps’ lead to 20, before going into halftime up 33-15.
Maryland went 5-of-10 from deep over the first 20 minutes, while Wisconsin missed all eight of its attempts from beyond the arc. The Terps shot 39.3 percent from the floor, which isn’t amazing but looks much better than the Badgers’ 26.9 percent clip. Most importantly, Maryland turned seven Wisconsin turnovers into 11 points, while the Badgers got no points off five Terps turnovers.
Maryland continued to cruise early in the second half. Happ got in foul trouble, earning his third and fourth on consecutive possessions, then Fernando picked up his fourth with just under 10 minutes remaining. The Badgers would find the three-point shot that abandoned them in the first period, going 11-of-22 over the final 20 minutes, and cutting the lead down to six with six minutes left.
From there it, was some back-and-forth, as Cowan tried to keep a Maryland offense afloat amid a long field goal drought. A triple from Davison cut the lead to five, and two free throws made it 57-54 at the final break. Reuvers’ triple completed the comeback. Davison’s three gave Wisconsin its first lead since the opening minutes, before Cowan responded and woke up the crowd His three-pointer was Maryland’s first since the 11:01 mark. Morsell and Cowan’s free throws took it to the final score, as each split a pair, thought the misses proved not to be costly.
Maryland will take its winning streak back on the road, taking on Ohio State in Columbus on Friday night.
Three things to know
1. Maryland was in control, until it wasn’t. The Terps avoided another dreaded cold start, and strapped up on defense. While the Terps had just two fewer turnovers in the first half, they punished the Badgers with an 11-point advantage in points off turnovers. The Terps then had a shot to put their foot on Wisconsin’s neck, but had little offense without Fernando’s presence, and allowed the Badgers to claw their way back into the game.
2. Wisconsin caught fire from deep. After missing all eight of their three-pointers in the first half, the Badgers were absolutely unconscious after the break. The Badgers went 11-of-22 from beyond the arc in the second half, using the three-point line to push its way back into the game, and briefly into the lead.
3. Anthony Cowan delivered again in the second half. Cowan went just 1-of-8 from the field in the first half, but luckily it didn’t matter. With Fernando riding the pine with foul trouble for most of the second half, Cowan stepped up and consistently worked is way to the free throw line. In the final minute, it’s little surprise that Cowan came up with what would prove the deciding bucket.