Maryland men’s basketball left the Xfinity Center with a 70-56 win over Purdue Tuesday night after trailing by eight at halftime. After letting Purdue shoot 40 percent in the first half, the Terps locked in and held the Boilermakers to just 18 points in the second half on 6-of-36 (16.7 percent) shooting.
When asked after the game what helped key the turnaround, everybody mentioned Darryl Morsell’s second-half defense on Carsen Edwards. After finishing the first half shooting 6-of-14 with 17 points, the Big Ten’s leading scorer would hit just 2 of 13 attempts in the second half and finish with what was still a game-high 24.
“Whenever [Edwards] touches the ball it’s a good chance he will score. I just tried to do my best and make it tough for him,” Morsell said after the game. “I was locked in, he had 17 in the first half so I kind of took it personal. As a team they only scored 18 in the second half—not only me, but the entire team took it personal being down at halftime.”
As Edwards goes, so do the Boilermakers. So as Morsell keyed in and locked down, stout team defense allowed the Terps to keep the rest of Purdue in check. He’d be the only player to make it into double figures, as Anthony Cowan Jr. kept co-star Ryan Cline to just nine points, going 3-of-8 from deep.
A locked-in defensive effort led to multiple empty Purdue possessions, including a 1-of-16 Boilermaker performance from three in the second half and five second half blocks for Maryland. Morsell got one of those on the possession that ended in a violation for Purdue, and a few possessions later, Eric Ayala hit back-to-back threes to erase a six-point deficit and tie the game. Edwards missed a three on the other end and there was a palpable energy flip that proved to be the beginning of the end.
“[Morsell] was key for us and he was working all night,” Ayala said after the game. “Carsen made some tough shots, and he’s going to do that, but Darryl he guarded him, he gave him everything he had. We fed off Darryl’s energy. Darryl was there the whole night and that was big for us.”
As Maryland’s best on-ball defender, Morsell has drawn some tough assignments this season, especially in conference play. Night in and out, he’s tasked with guarding the opponent’s best scorer and hitting open shots on offense. It's a role he says he's embraced, and one Maryland needs him to fill if it's going to enjoy success into the postseason. He’d finish with just four points on 2-of-6 shooting against Purdue, but defensive performances like his second half on Edwards show just essential his defense is for the Terps.
“Darryl’s gotta understand what he’s doing for our team is just as important as Bruno’s scoring, or Anthony’s scoring or Bruno’s rebounds, and I think he’s accepted that,” head coach Mark Turgeon said after the game. “The thing I like the most is I think Darryl was having a lot of fun. He had a smile on his face and was really enjoying the moment, and that was all I was asking the guys to do.”
In other news
Morsell’s defense galvanized Maryland in the second half, but it takes a team effort to hold a ranked team to 18 points for an entire half. Here are Justin’s takeaways from the night.
Maryland’s freshmen showed out in the win, scoring 21 straight Maryland points at one stretch. Here are Lila’s best shots from a raucous night at Xfinity.
Mike Locksley made a huge splash to wrap up his first football recruiting class, securing four-star safety Nick Cross’ flip and signature Tuesday. Cross made the trip to College Park for the game, and was spotted along with the entire new coaching staff.
Cross went on NBC4 to discuss his signing before making an appearance at the game.
.@DeMathaCatholic senior and one of the top recruits in the nation, @Nick_Cross26 has committed to play for @TerpsFootball. Only on @nbcwashington Cross talked to @SherreeBurruss about what went into his decision #Terps pic.twitter.com/O2S9joZqdu— NBC4 Sports (@NBC4Sports) February 13, 2019
With baseball season around the corner, the Terps will look to make it back to the postseason after finishing ninth in the conference in Rob Vaughn’s first season at the helm.
Men’s lacrosse’s Austin Henningsen won the first Big Ten Specialist of the Week award of the season, becoming the first player in the conference to ever win every faceoff on more than 15 attempts in one game.
Henningsen making history‼️— Maryland Lacrosse (@TerpsMLax) February 12, 2019
❌Only Terp since at least 2000 to finish perfect on FO with at least 10 wins
❌1st-ever @B1GLacrosse player to post a 100% FO pct. with at least 15 wins
❌1st player in @NCAALAX this season with a 100% FO pct.
: https://t.co/eZuNfXC2kK pic.twitter.com/NlcWUNyWPY
Former Terp and current Birmingham Iron kicker Nick Novak was named the inaugural American Alliance of Football Special Teams Player of the Week after going 4-for-4 in his first week.