On a rainy Sunday afternoon in College Park, the Xfinity Center atmosphere was the best version of itself.
Maryland basketball legends from throughout the Terps’ 100-year history were on hand to receive standing ovations from a sellout crowd. The students packed the building early and whipped out a flash mob in the first half. Red Panda flipped bowls onto her head during a thriller of a halftime show.
Everything was there except the win.
Maryland dropped a much-anticipated matchup with No. 9 Michigan, 69-62, as the Wolverines made just a few more plays in a game that was back-and-forth throughout. The No. 17 Terps dropped their second straight contest and fell for the first time at home in conference play.
“We’re disappointed that we didn’t win. It was 100-years celebration, the players were back. We’re disappointed,” head coach Mark Turgeon said after the game. “We wanted to win. We wanted this bad today. And we just couldn’t get it. We couldn’t get it. We just didn’t get it done.”
The teams were even in most statistical categories—Michigan went 25-for-57 from the field, Maryland shot 25-of-58 and both teams were 6-of-20 from three-point range. The Terps dominated on the boards in the second half and won the rebounding battle 35-31 overall. And after struggling mightily with turnovers and transition defense throughout league play, Maryland committed just nine giveaways Sunday.
But down the stretch, Maryland couldn’t make a play or get a stop when it needed one. Michigan scored on seven consecutive possessions between the 4:38 and 0:54 marks, which kept the game firmly in the Wolverines’ hands. The last of those scores, Isaiah Livers’ elbow three-pointer with the shot clock winding down, was the final nail in the coffin.
“Most of those possessions, I feel like we guarded great. They just made some tough shots,” sophomore guard Darryl Morsell said. “[Zavier] Simpson made some tough hook shots, the kid Iggy [Brazdeikis] made some tough shots, some running floaters with the opposite hand, [Jon] Teske hit a big three for them. We guarded how we were supposed to; I feel like they just made big shots when they had to.”
With the loss, Maryland falls to fifth place in the Big Ten standings, half a game behind Wisconsin. The Badgers play twice next week—against Iowa and at Ohio State—and Maryland needs them to lose at least once. With Purdue in pole position to win the league crown, the Terps would have the tiebreaker over Wisconsin due to their win over the Boilermakers on Feb. 12.
So Maryland still has a chance at that double bye, but the Terps did severe damage to their cause this week. The loss at Penn State was Maryland’s worst performance of the year, and losing in front of a raucous home crowd is naturally deflating as well. The Terps have just one regular-season game remaining, hosting Minnesota on Friday. While senior day is always special, Maryland will enter in dire need of a momentum boost.
“This is the time of year we gotta stick together,” sophomore center Bruno Fernando said. “We gotta keep working and just moving on. There’s a lot of season left for us; we’ve still got a chance to do unbelievable things for our team and the program.
“To not be able to win the game, it definitely is disappointing, not just for us but our fans as well. But we gotta stick together and bounce back next game.”