In front of a sold out-crowd and former program greats and National Championship winners, Maryland men’s basketball got outmatched by No. 9 Michigan down the stretch, falling 69-62 at home.
It was a tightly contested game that neither team led by more than six points until the final minutes. But even without Charles Matthews for the second straight game, the Wolverines made life hard for the No. 17 Terps on both ends. Michigan’s offense heated up late to hand Maryland its first conference home loss of the season.
Bruno Fernando recorded another double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, adding a career-high six blocks. After playing just under five minutes in the first half with two fouls, Jalen Smith would go on to finish second on the Terps in scoring with 11. Darryl Morsell added 10, and Anthony Cowan Jr. didn’t get going until late in this one, finishing with 10 points on 4-of-15 shooting. Eric Ayala would also make it into double figures, adding 10 of his own on 4-of-7 shooting.
Ignas Brazdeikis led the way for Michigan with 21 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Michigan’s five starters all reached double figures, as Zavier Simpson and Jordan Poole notched 12 and Isaiah Livers and Jon Teske added 11 each.
Trying to avoid another slow start, Maryland opened the game with two straight makes from distance, from Smith then Morsell. Michigan would start forcing fouls and getting to the line in response, drawing four fouls in the first four minutes and six by the second media break. After the game was first tied at 8, the teams traded buckets until a 6-0 Terps run gave them a 20-14 lead.
The Wolverines took their first lead of the game on a 10-2 run to go up 24-22. Maryland went scoreless over the final six minutes of that stretch, before Cowan hit a pull-up jumper to tie the game. That was his first make in five attempts, as he reverted to another slow start. Maryland went into halftime down 28-24, with Cowan’s conversion being the team’s only make in its final 10 attempts of the period.
Despite how each team closed the half, Maryland still finished shooting 42.3 percent from the field (11-of-26) to Michigan’s 34.5 percent (10-of-29). The Wolverines won the offensive rebounding battle in the first half, grabbing nine to Maryland’s four and outscoring the Terps 11-4 on second-chance points.
The Terps retook the lead a few minutes into the second half as momentum swung their way. It started with an and-one from Morsell, then Smith would go on a personal 6-0 run to put Maryland ahead 36-35 after getting two fouls and missing all but five minutes in the first half.
The energy reset served the Terps well, setting up a chippy back-and-forth affair. A nearly five-minute scoring drought allowed Michigan to go up 48-43 before Aaron Wiggins finally snapped that stretch at the free throw line. Brazdeikis would hit his second triple of the game shortly after, followed by a swooping hook shot by Simpson to put the Wolverines up 53-45.
Teske then gave the Wolverines their largest lead of the game out of the final media break, hitting a three for a 58-49 advantage. Wiggins responded with a three, and Cowan shook off the rust to add two late buckets, but the Terps were still on the wrong end of a five-point deficit and struggling to find answers defensively.
A triple by Cowan cut a Maryland deficit to 62-57 with 1:26 left, but a late-clock triple by Livers on the ensuing possession all but sealed the deal. Maryland extended the game with a three by Ayala and fouls, but didn’t have enough firepower to overcome the deficit.
The Terps will finish up the regular season with the back half of its first true two-game homestand since the middle of January. Minnesota will come to the Xfinity Center on Friday night to close out the season.
Three things to know
1. Maryland’s bigs had to work for their buckets. Despite both bigs finishing in double-figures, it wasn’t easy for either. Teske probably gave Fernando the most trouble of any Big Ten center this season, frustrating him and making him work every time down the court. Smith’s foul trouble limited him in the first half, and after he went on his personal run in the second, the Wolverines quieted him down the stretch.
2. Michigan overcame Maryland’s second-half dominance on the boards. Maryland won the overall rebounding battle 35-31, and much of that work was done in the second half. After getting outworked 21-15 on the boards in the first half, the Terps would win the rebounding battle 20-10 in the second half. Ultimately, though, it wouldn’t matter, as the Terps couldn’t get enough stops in the game’s final minutes.
3. The building was still rocking. The energy was high in the Xfinity Center for the 300th game in the building. After celebrating the 100th season the night before, program greats from each era showed up to support the Terps and show love. With another iteration of the flash mob featuring Melo Trimble, and Red Panda taking over the halftime show, Maryland had the full weight of 100 seasons of basketball behind it, but didn’t have enough on either end to close out the win.