After taking its last timeout of the game with 25.2 seconds left, Maryland men’s basketball got back on offense, trailing, 72-70, with 17 ticks on the shot clock to make a play.
The Terps had clawed their way back into the game despite trailing by as much as 15 points in its Christmas Day matchup with Purdue, and this was their chance to make good on those efforts.
With the possession underway, Darryl Morsell dribbled into the paint looking to score a layup, but he instead drew a foul with the chance to tie the game at the line. He missed both shots, wiping away a key chance to tie the game.
The missed free throws put the Terps in a difficult spot to try to get back into this one, but down three points after a made free throw from Purdue, they got another prime chance.
Eric Ayala held the ball at the top of the key, but felt the pressure as the clock began to wind down. He ultimately tried to draw contact and threw up an awkward three-point attempt, which fell well short and into the hands of Edey, cementing Maryland’s 73-70 defeat.
“We battled,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “We weren’t good enough defensively in the end to win the game.”
Redshirt freshman guard Julian Newman led the way for the Boilermakers, scoring a game-high 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting while junior guard Eric Hunter Jr. tallied 16 points. The Terps were led by Donta Scott, who scored 15 points (all in the second half), with Ayala and Aaron Wiggins each adding 13 and 14 points, respectively.
The beginning of Friday’s contest was marked by yet another change in the starting lineup for the Terps, with juniors Jairus Hamilton and Aaron Wiggins replacing seniors Darryl Morsell and Galin Smith. Turgeon has utilized five different starting lineup combinations in seven games, with the most recent iteration lasting less than a minute of game-time.
Smith checked in less than a minute in mark for Hamilton, with Purdue head coach countering with his 7-foot-4 big man Zach Edey. Sophomore center Chol Marial replaced Smith just minutes later, as Turgeon threw all but the kitchen sink at Purdue’s duo of talented big men.
Despite being at a disadvantage in size, the Terps defended the interior capably through the opening exchanges, but the same certainly couldn’t be said for the outside. Purdue came into Friday’s contest shooting 38.0 percent as a team from beyond the arc, but finished the game 10-of-22 (45.5 percent) from deep thanks to hot shooting start early in the contest.
Stagnant Terp possessions on the offensive end of the floor led to quick run-outs for the Boilermakers, with a pair of transition three-pointers from Sasha Stefanovic and Isaiah Thompson contributing to a 8-0 run that gave Purdue its first double-digit lead of the game at 19-8.
Purdue went on to convert on five of its first seven three-point attempts of the first half, compared to just 1-of-5 for Maryland as its lead continued to grow.
Morsell managed to finally end his shooting slump on the other end of the floor, knocking down a corner three to give him his first triple in five games. Ayala rattled home a three-pointer minutes later, adding a difficult lay-up inside on the following possession to trim Purdue’s lead down to 10.
But, Purdue’s barrage from the outside continued as Maryland struggled to keep up. At the 4:53 mark of the first half, Boilermaker guard Eric Hunter Jr. took Ayala off-the-dribble at the top of the key.
Generating just enough space, the lefty rose up and fired from a foot beyond the arc, sinking the triple to give Purdue its seventh three-pointer of the half, the most Maryland has allowed in a half this season.
“Scouting them, we kind of knew [Sasha Stefanovic] was kind of a really good shooter,” Ayala said. “I think we held him to like one three, but just had to be more alert on other guys. They came out firing and they made a lot of shots too.”
Ultimately, Purdue took a 41-28 lead into the halftime break, doing so despite the team’s leading scorer in Williams only playing three minutes due to foul trouble.
Williams began the half on the floor, once again matched up with Marial. The Terps went right at Williams once again, getting the ball to Marial in the low post who drew yet another foul, sending the 6-foot-10 junior right back to the bench.
But three quick personal fouls on Marial within the first three minutes sent him to the sidelines as well, forcing Maryland to go small.
Despite Maryland lacking in size on the inside, Purdue began the second half ice cold after a red-hot start. The Boilermakers began the second frame converting on two of their first 14 attempts as the Terps began to lock in defensively.
Maryland went on a 10-0 run as it held Purdue scoreless for four-plus minutes. Senior guard Reese Mona made his first appearance in two games in the second half, knocking down his first three-point attempt to cut the lead to six. Hamilton added a pair of three-pointers as well after struggling to do so in the first, including a step-back triple, whittling Purdue’s lead all the way down to a single point with under 13 left in the contest.
The Boilermakers eventually found their shooting once again shortly after, as Jadon Ivey sunk consecutive shots from beyond the arc to bring Purdue’s three-point total to nine while restoring its lead to seven points.
Maryland’s window of opportunity to close the gap continued to dwindle as it struggled to find a rhythm offensively. Purdue’s poor shooting start to the second half slowly began to regress back to the mean, as the shots from long range started to fall once again despite a strong defensive effort.
With just over eight minutes remaining, Purdue ran freshman guard Julian Newman off two screeners, catching and shooting in the face of a Maryland defender to sink another three ball and stretch the lead to nine.
“When the team’s hitting shots the way that they did, its hard,” Wiggins said. “You’re trying your best, we’re switching, we played according to our scouting plan. But they made contested threes, contested twos, their guards played really well.”
But the Terps fought back once again, continuing to use its defensive energy to feed into its play on the offensive end of the floor. At the 7:10 mark, Wiggins put in a three-pointer on one end and locked up Hunter Jr. on the other, forcing a miss that resulted in a long rebound and a fast-break opportunity.
Maryland fired down the floor and found Donta Scott for an open three-pointer, which he converted to cut spark a 7-0 run for the Terps and cut the lead back down to two.
Both teams continued to trade blows as they came down the stretch, with Boilermakers relying on their big man in Williams for their scoring. But with the deficit at four, late drive by Ayala forced the defense to converge, where a cutting Morsell was wide open for a dunk to cut the lead back to two with 1:31 remaining.
A missed three-pointer on the other end by Newman gave the Terps a chance for the tie, with Scott doing the honors on a difficult drive and finish through contact, bringing Maryland level with 58 seconds remaining.
Things ultimately didn’t go the Terps’ way down the stretch as they failed to execute the way they had previously in the half to drop its first Big Ten road game and fall 0-2 in conference play.
“We have a team that wants to win,” Wiggins said. “I mean, we were down 12 or 13 at one point in the first half ... And then we came back, we cut it to two, I think we almost took the lead towards the end of the game. So I mean, we have guys who want to win.”
Three Things to Know
1. Maryland’s free throw shooting is a significant issue. Coming into Friday’s game shooting just 71.7 percent from the charity stripe as a team, the Terps continued to struggle to take advantage of their chances at the free throw line. Maryland shot 10-21 (47.6 percent) at the line on Friday, including the two crucial misses from Morsell in the final moments.
2. The Terps struggled to keep up on the boards. Maryland was well-aware of its size deficit entering this game, and that shortcoming was made evident on the glass. Purdue out-rebounded Maryland 41-31 on the afternoon, with Williams and Edey each leading the way with eight and seven, respectively.
3. Chol Marial made significant strides on the defensive end of the floor. Seeing scarce playing time to this point of the season, many wondered whether Turgeon would utilize Marial in a game in which the team was tasked with skilled interior players in Williams and Edey. But Marial held his ground whenever Purdue went at him, not allowing himself to be out-muscled in the low post.
Marial finished with one block as well, putting his 7-foot-11 wingspan to good use.