After a pair of Donta Scott free throws extended No. 12 Maryland men’s basketball’s lead to 15-10 with 11:44 to go in the first half, the offense stalled completely. In a span of nearly nine minutes, the Terps missed seven consecutive field goals while turning the ball over seven times.
Iowa, meanwhile, didn’t have the same issues. From the 12:12 mark of the first half to the 3:31 point, the Hawkeyes made eight of their 17 shots from the floor — including a trio of three-pointers — to pull ahead at the Carver Hawkeye Arena.
Being on the wrong side of a 21-4 run was a death sentence for Maryland, which couldn’t overcome its lengthy deficit in the 67-49 loss to the Hawkeyes — its worst defeat this season.
“We were bad. We stunk,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “And I’ve been doing this a long time, and that ranks up there as one of the worst one of my teams have ever played.”
Maryland’s offense faltered in nearly every facet on Friday night, and it had a particularly difficult time establishing a presence on the interior against the zone. The Terps shot 32.7 percent from the field, 18.2 percent on three-pointers and just 55 percent from the charity stripe. The team’s 49 points are the program’s fewest in a Big Ten conference game.
With 9:30 to go in the first half, sophomore forward Jalen Smith posted up 6’11 Iowa center Luka Garza, spun left and attempted a hook shot, which was off-target due to the physical defense of the defender.
Flying in for the offensive board was Darryl Morsell, who has specialized in putbacks so far in his junior season. His tip-in missed, and on his second attempt following yet another rebound, he was blocked violently from behind by a leaping Garza.
Led by Garza’s six defensive rebounds and two blocks through 20 minutes of play, the Terps were suffocated in the paint offensively. And they weren’t bailed out by their oft-struggling three-point attack, which went just 2-of-9 before halftime.
“Part of the problem is we can’t make a shot,” Turgeon said. “I didn’t see this coming. I’m going to keep trying, we’ll figure it out, but they gotta look in the mirror at some point and be like, ‘Hey, I’ve done this before. Come on now.’”
Iowa had the opposite level of success. Sophomore sharpshooter Joe Wieskamp lived up to the billing on Friday night, as he nailed four of his five attempts from beyond the arc to help pace the game with 18 first-half points. As a team, the Hawkeyes were a blistering 6-of-10 from long range before the break, another boost in their game-defining run.
And when Garza wasn’t terrorizing Maryland defensively, he was making plays on the other end to push his team ahead. After a 0-of-3 start to the game, he made five of his eight field goal attempts, including a high-arcing three-pointer from way downtown over the outstretched arms of Chol Marial to deliver a deflating blow.
“Our defense, we just let up. And once they got hot, they didn’t cool down,” Smith said. “We tried to stop them, it just wasn’t falling our way.”
After a slow start to the second half — and seeing its deficit balloon to as much as a season-high 16 points — Maryland showed signs of life.
With 15:17 remaining and the Terps down 44-29, Anthony Cowan Jr. did what he does best. He caught a pass on the right wing of the three-point arc and launched a triple, holding his shot as he watched the ball go through the twine.
A couple possessions later, Morsell drove to the rim on Iowa’s other big man, Ryan Kriener, whose defense forced an errant layup. But Smith was trailing and had a signature putback dunk, energizing the bench and cutting the deficit to 10 points. It seemed as though that was the moment Maryland would make a monster run as it had so many times early in the year.
But the run never came. Despite forcing Iowa to miss nine of 10 field goals in a six-minute span in the second half, the Terps never did enough to take advantage. In fact, after Smith’s dunk, Maryland never cut the deficit to 10 points again for the rest of the game.
With 6:20 left and the team down by 18, Cowan took the ball up the court and attempted a leaping pass to Aaron Wiggins, who was standing open on the wing. But Wieskamp deflected the pass and Iowa corralled the loose ball, Maryland’s 17th turnover of the game in the middle of a near-five-minute scoring drought.
On the other end, Wieskamp caught a pass from Joe Toussaint in the right corner and lofted a three over the outstretched arms of Smith, and he nailed his fifth triple of the game to extend Iowa’s lead to 21 points, the highest mark of the night to that point in his career-high 26-point performance. The Terps were never able to make the comeback effort, suffering their worst loss of the season.
“Tonight was disappointing,” Turgeon said. “We fully expected to win this game.”
Three things to know
1. Maryland’s turnover bug continued to persist. Entering Friday, the Terps were coming off another poor passing performance. Four times in the last fives games — including on Tuesday against Ohio State — they had a sub-1.0 assist-to-turnover ratio. Facing the Hawkeyes, Maryland finished with 17 turnovers — its most since Dec. 10 against Seton Hall — and just 11 assists.
2. The road woes struck again. Maryland had played just two true road games before facing the Hawkeyes. Both of those contests — at Penn State and at Seton Hall — resulted in the team’s only defeats. In Iowa City on Friday night, the Terps dropped their third straight road game and Turgeon’s team continued to look drastically different away from Xfinity Center.
“I wish I had the exact answer,” Cowan said. “This one is 100 percent on us. We just gotta be better on the road.”
They’ll have to get that issue resolved quickly, because three of their next four games games — at Wisconsin, at Northwestern and at Indiana — will be on the road.
3. Iowa dominated on the glass. After the loss of the Mitchell twins to the transfer portal, Maryland was left with a distinct lack of weight in the frontcourt. Maryland’s frontcourt led by Jalen Smith couldn’t bang down low effectively against Iowa’s stout bigs. As a team, the Terps were outrebounded by a 44-32 margin, including 15-9 on the offensive glass.