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Takeaways from Maryland basketball’s gut-wrenching win at Iowa

How the Terps squeaked by for their first win against a ranked opponent on the road since 2008.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t pretty, but Maryland basketball finally beat a ranked team on the road for the first time since 2008 on Tuesday. The Terps blew a 12-point second half-lead, needing a Bruno Fernando tip-in with 7.8 seconds to go to hold on for a 66-65 win. Here are some takeaways from the thrilling victory.

Maryland won this game in the most Maryland way possible.

The Terps have pulled away in impressive fashion in their four conference road wins, but none came against a team as good as Iowa. Maryland had withstood the Hawkeyes’ chances to get back into the game all night, only to almost completely collapse down the stretch. The Terps gave Iowa points at the foul line, botched an alley-oop to Bruno Fernando, then committed an inexplicable 10-second turnover after the Hawkeyes took their first lead since the first half.

But in the last 14 seconds, Maryland did enough. Fernando managed to jump over the entire Iowa defense for the go-ahead tip-in, then Anthony Cowan Jr. forced a questionable three from Jordan Bohannon and didn’t foul after the Hawkeyes got another offensive rebound off the miss. The Terps have won close games in bunches since joining the Big Ten, and its only fitting that Maryland won its first road game against a ranked team in nailbiting fashion.

Anthony Cowan looked like himself again.

The junior has struggled to get in a rhythm the past five games, averaging just 9.2 points per game on 32 percent shooting. Although he shot just 5-for-15 in this one, Cowan hit 5-for-10 threes and dished out a season high eight assists. His three-pointers in the first half were crucial. as it got the rest of the team going and allowed Maryland to take a lead into the locker room despite a rough first 20 minutes.

The Terps have been able to get by with Cowan slumping by stepping up on defense and getting contributions from everyone else, but this is a better team when Cowan is in a groove.

Maryland’s three-point shooting got its offense going.

The first 12 minutes of the game were rough for both teams, and especially so for the Terps. Maryland hit just two of its first 14 attempts from the field, and didn’t hit its first shot until a Ricky Lindo dunk almost seven minutes into the game. The Terps had nine points in the first 10:53 before Aaron Wiggins hit the team’s first three of the night, and they then scored 18 in the remainder of the first half.

After starting 0-for-6 from beyond the arc, Maryland hit 12 of its last 22 attempts from distance. Many helped stop the bleeding in the second half, giving the Terps enough breathing room to avoid a complete collapse late. With Eric Ayala being an unexpected shooting surprise and Wiggins living up to his shooting potential recently, that allows Maryland to play inside-out and be that much tougher of a matchup on the offensive end.

Another strong defensive effort against a solid offensive team.

Iowa is the No. 8 team in the country in offensive efficiency, according to KenPom, and Maryland made it work for almost everything. The Hawkeyes shot just 32.8 percent from the field and hit just 8-of-26 three-point attempts. Marksmen Jordan Bohannon and Joe Wieskamp combined to shot just 2-for-16 from the field and 2-for-10 on three pointers, and the Terps had similar success down low. Tyler Cook took just four shots and scored six points, and Luka Garza had five points on a 1-for-7 night.

Locking up the Hawkeyes’ top scorers offset Maryland’s other struggles on this end of the floor, as the Terps gave up 18 offensive rebounds and allowed Iowa to get into the bonus with 11:27 remaining. Maryland has been solid on defense since the loss to Illinois, giving a sometimes inconsistent offensive team some room for error and a little more confidence. As the Terps head into the final stretch of the regular season, that improved defense will continue to pay dividends.