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Takeaways from Maryland basketball’s loss to Michigan

With their two stars struggling, the Terps didn’t have enough to hold off the No. 9 Wolverines down the stretch.

Lila Bromberg | Testudo Times

On an afternoon where Maryland basketball welcomed back some of its program legends to celebrate 100 seasons, the current team couldn’t deliver a memorable performance of its own. After going back and forth with No. 9 Michigan for much of the afternoon, the Wolverines separated late for a 69-62 win.

All five of Maryland’s starters scored in double figures, and so did Michigan’s. The No. 17 Terps struggled to contain Ignas Brazdeikis, who scored 21 points, much to the dismay of a taunting crowd. Maryland couldn’t stop Zavier Simpson either, as he chipped in 12 points on 6-for-7 shooting and 10 assists, including four hook shots. Here’s what else stood out from the game.

Maryland couldn’t get a stop when it needed one.

After Michigan took an eight-point lead with 4:38 remaining, the Terps scored on five straight possessions. The problem is Maryland’s defense disappeared during that time, allowing the Wolverines to do the exact same thing due to crucial lapses and missed opportunities.

Maryland went to a six-man rotation for the second half for the first time in a while, and a Wolverines team used to lack of depth took advantage. The biggest missed opportunity for the Terps happened in the final minute, following a block by Bruno Fernando on Jordan Poole. The ball went out of bounds, and Maryland trapped Isaiah Livers on the corner on the ensuing in-bounds. But Livers stepped up and buried a three, giving Michigan a 65-57 lead with 54 seconds left that served as the dagger.

The Wolverines closed the game like an experienced team, and made Maryland look young when it really counted.

It was a rough day for both Anthony Cowan and Bruno Fernando.

Maryland has survived off games from one of its two leading scorers earlier this season, but once again couldn’t survive another tough night from both. Cowan struggled with Michigan’s length and Zavier Simpson’s pesky defense, finishing with just 10 points on 4-for-15 shooting. The junior looked hesitant to attack the basket, and when he did, he looked uncomfortable until a layup with under a minute left.

Fernando put up a solid line of 12 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks, but was inconsistent on both ends and shot just 5-for-13 from the field. He was never able to get in a groove on the offensive ends thanks to stout defense from Jon Teske, and got beat multiple times on the pick-and-roll and backdoor in the first half. Fernando played a team and career-high 39 minutes, which is more than usual for a player whose energy usually falls before he has to be taken out.

Maryland went to a short rotation for the first time in a while.

After the loss to Seton Hall in late December, Mark Turgeon put an emphasis on developing an eight-man rotation because his top six were playing too many minutes. Aaron Wiggins, Ricky Lindo, Serrel Smith Jr. and Joshua Tomaic checked in in the first half, but only Wiggins came off the bench in the second half. That may have contributed to the Terps’ struggles down the stretch, when Maryland went on a 4:49 scoreless drought and didn’t hit a field goal in 7:47 of game time. The Terps also struggled on defense on the back end of that stretch, allowing Michigan to score on seven straight possessions before Maryland had to resort to fouling.

The Terps have five days before their next game Friday night against Minnesota, so Maryland could afford to play some guys extra with more rest coming up. But on a night where both Fernando and Cowan struggled, Turgeon could’ve tried to get them more rest and provide more opportunities for Wiggins and Smith Jr. to provide a spark through the long droughts.