Feature photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.
In Maryland’s first Big Ten loss to Nebraska, the Terps led 65-53 with six minutes left. They wouldn’t score again.
Saturday, Maryland led Purdue 58-55 after Michal Cekovsky finished a dunk with seven and a half minutes to go. That was the Terps’ last field goal of the game.
Maryland dropped its second conference game of the season, as Purdue snapped its seven-game winning streak in a 73-72 nail-biter.
After the Cekovsky dunk, Maryland scored all 14 of its points from the free-throw line, with Melo Trimble converting 11 of them. It was one free throw too few.
The Terps missed their final eight shots of the game and made only two of their last 16 attempts from the field.
“We couldn’t make a jump shot,” Turgeon said. “I wish I could have helped us more. I wish I could have gotten them a layup.”
Despite the field-goal drought, Maryland had a 72-69 lead with under a minute to play following two of Trimble’s free throws. Purdue closed the gap with four free throws of their own, two from Isaac Haas and two from Carsen Edwards.
Edwards scored the game’s final points with 2.1 seconds left on the clock. With his team down one point, the freshman swished two in a row in the face of 17,950 screaming red-clad Terp fans.
“We just had some silly fouls,” Turgeon said. “We allowed them to beat us at the foul line instead of earning it down there at the end. We’re about defense, so I wanted to win it on defense. We just couldn’t get that stop.”
Still, the Terps had a final chance. Haas intercepted the ensuing full-court inbound attempt, but with 0.5 seconds left on the clock, he walked with the ball. The officials went to the monitor, and Maryland was granted one final breath.
Kevin Huerter got an open look for a corner three, but like many of the uncontested shots Maryland saw in the second half, it clashed with iron.
Maryland made just eight field goals in the second half and shot 16.7 percent from beyond the arc (2-of-12).
“It wasn’t our defense,” Purdue head coach Matt Painter said. “They just missed. We’re very fortunate.”
Maryland has been known for winning close games not just this season, but for the last few years. Prior to Saturday, the Terps were 29-6 in games decided by six points or fewer the last three seasons, with nine of those coming this year.
“I still thought we were going to win. I think everybody did,” Turgeon said. “We just didn’t get it done.”
The rarity of losing close is jarring, in part because Maryland knows it could have won.
“They’re hurting in [the locker room] right now because we played well enough to win,” Turgeon said. “We were just one possession away.”
It’s a tough to accept, but Damonte Dodd isn’t hanging his head.
“It’s very difficult, but at the same time, we still have a good record and a good team,” he said. “We’re just going to bounce back from this.”
The Terps kept Purdue’s 3-point shooting in check in the first half, but the second was a different story. In the first half, the Boilermakers made just three of their 11 shots from deep. In the second, the Big Ten’s best 3-point shooting team doubled its output, hitting six threes.
Caleb Swanigan exploded in the second. He scored nine points in the first and took only seven shots with a rotation of Maryland interior players making it difficult for him to find space in the paint.
Swanigan finished with 26 points, though, and made three of his six 3-pointers, shooting to his 50 percent 3-point season average. He added 10 rebounds, completing his sixth-straight double-double.
“The mindset was to make everything [Swanigan] got tough,” Dodd said. “Everything he took was a tough shot. He’s a great player.”
Maryland will play again Tuesday night in State College against Penn State for a chance to start a new winning streak. Painter doesn’t think this loss describes Maryland.
“It’s just one possession. Nothing’s wrong with Maryland and nothing’s great about Purdue,” he explained. “It’s competitive. It’s two great teams. We got one more break than they did.”
Edited by Austin Kleber.
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