Maryland basketball put a hurting on Northwestern Tuesday night, running away with a 70-52 victory. The Terps overpowered the Wildcats inside, and their stifling defense made sure it was a wrap.
Maryland dominated inside, outscoring Northwestern 36-22 in the paint and outrebounding the Wildcats 44-28. Northwestern had an off night, but Maryland’s defense made it worse and held the Wildcats to just 31 percent shooting for the game.
“They were locked in to what we were trying to do,” Northwestern head coach Chris Collins said after the game. “They did a good job on [Dererk] Pardon, took away his easy baskets, made him shoot under 50 percent—which is a big weapon for us. We couldn’t make them pay from outside.”
Anthony Cowan Jr. played a season-low 19 minutes after getting in foul trouble at the end of the first half, but it didn’t matter. Without its primary playmaker, the Terps still ran up the score and guarded against the comeback. After going into the half up 33-22, the Terps poured it on in the second half and every scholarship player (yes, even Andrew Terrell) got into the game.
Here are takeaways from the night:
Anthony Cowan came out hot, but sat most of the second half.
Cowan has started slow fairly often in conference play, but did the exact opposite against Northwestern. He opened the game with a four-point play on a contested triple and added a steal-and-score shortly after. His last two points of the game would come near the end of the first half, though, after he picked up a questionable hook-and-hold flagrant on a play that also notched him two free throws. He’d nail both, but pick up his third foul and be forced to sit at the start of the second half.
After playing a shade under 17 minutes in the first half, Cowan was limited to just under two minutes in the second half. In his short time on the court, he picked up his fourth foul and was done for the day with 11:56 remaining. In his stead, Maryland was still able to build its lead to 17 after the half started, then up to 25 before coasting to the finish. Eric Ayala handled primary playmaker duties and added all eight of his points in the second half, while the offense ran through Bruno Fernando in the post.
“Anthony’s a really good defender for us, so to continue to guard the way we guarded in the second half without Anthony was terrific,” head coach Mark Turgeon said after the game. “A lot of guys played really well defensively and that’s what carried us through. Then we were much more efficient in the second half.”
This was the Bruno Fernando show.
With a group of locally-based Angolans cheering him on, Fernando gave Pardon hell all night on both ends. He was also able to keep Pardon in check, holding him to 5-of-14 from the field and torturing him offensively in the post. He had help, as Jalen Smith bounced back from a couple subpar outings to add 14 points and seven boards.
Fernando finished with his fourth straight double-double, posting 22 points and 10 boards. That scoring outburst represents the second-highest output of his career, and much of the second-half offense ran through him in the post with Cowan out. His most impressive play may have been an assist to Smith, after he left his feet to fire a triple. After finishing the first half with 12 points and six rebounds, he added 10 more points, four more rebounds and two assists in the second half.
“It feels good that the coaching staff trusts me so much to get the ball inside and either get it back or get my teammates involved,” Fernando said after the game. “We did a lot of scouting on [Pardon] and I watched extra film by myself just to make sure I see what type of moves he likes to do. ... But he’s a great player, I think I did a phenomenal job on him tonight and it helped us get a win.”
The win also concludes a mostly positive January.
It was a month of growth that started out with a come-from-behind win over Nebraska and would grow to include a few more. More importantly, the Terps finished their first full month of conference play 7-2 and avoided a three-game slide after losses to Michigan State and Illinois last week.
“We had some good road wins, won a couple of games we probably didn’t think we were going to win, lost one game everybody thought we were going to win,” Turgeon said. “But it was a really good January. I couldn’t eat, I was upset [after the Illinois loss]. I came to practice [Sunday] and the guys were terrific. ... I just knew that they were ready to come back and play well.”
It won’t get easier in the next stretch, as three of Maryland’s next five opponents are currently ranked and all five have been ranked at some point this season. The Terps will take an 8-3 conference record into the month of February, sitting fourth in the conference. Road games at Wisconsin and Nebraska won’t be easy, and the Terps won’t play back-to-back home games until March.