The Maryland Terrapins started out hot against the Northwestern Wildcats as they had done in several other games, but this time there was a twist: Maryland kept the pressure on Northwestern for the entire game.
Maryland has had its share of close games the past month. The Terps’ last five games came down to the final minutes, and in four of those games, Maryland fell short in those critical moments.
But thanks to sophomores Kevin Huerter and Anthony Cowan, it didn’t come to that against the Wildcats.
Huerter and Cowan scored a combined 38 points, leading the Terps to their third straight win against the Wildcats at home, 73-57.
Cowan and Huerter efficiently accounted for 52 percent of the Terps’ offense. The duo combined to shoot 52 percent from the floor, including 40 percent from the 3-point line. Cowan stayed on the floor the entire game, while Huerter was on the bench for just two minutes.
The win gives Maryland its second victory in three games. It’s also the first double-digit victory for the Terps since their 77-66 win over Minnesota on Jan. 18.
Huerter led all scorers with 22 points, while Cowan wasn’t far behind with 16. Freshman guard Darryl Morsell also finished with 14 points, shooting 7-of-10.
“That’s the Darryl we recruited and he played like that today,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said. “All of Darryl’s tipins were huge for us. It’s hard to score against that matchup but his tips came at the right time. You see his game evolving and getting better.”
It was the Terps’ defense, however, that kept the game in Maryland’s hands. The Terps held the Wildcats to just 33 percent on 19 shots. More importantly, Maryland held senior guard Bryant McIntosh — one of Northwestern’s top scorers — to zero points and limited him to just five shots.
“You have to credit the defense, and I thought they did a great job swarming into out pick and roll game,” said Northwestern head coach Chris Collins. “I thought their principles were really good against us.”
It didn’t take long for the Terps to jump out to a lead,going on a 5-0 run the start the game and doubling up the Wildcats 17-8 in the first five minutes.
Northwestern threatened Maryland’s lead twice in the first half,cutting the lead into single digits, but Maryland had control for most of the game. The Terps started a 9-0 run in the first half that bled into the second, turning a 36-29 halftime lead into a 43-29 lead.
From that point on, Maryland held its double-digit lead for the remainder of the game. The Terps led by as many as 21 points with a jumper from Morsell. And though Northwestern came back within 15 points with a little more than three minutes left, it wasn’t enough to worry the Terps.
“It was a good sign to me that our guys aren’t losing their focus at halftime,” Turgeon said. “It’s good to win and it’s hard to win. Losing stinks and what we’ve been through sucked, but hopefully we’re peaking at the right time.”
Maryland will play Northwestern again in nine days, but it will be in Rosemont, Illinois, as one of its final four games. The Terps will split the end of the season with two home games and two away games, starting with a trip to Nebraska on Feb. 13. Maryland has struggled on the road all season with its only win coming against Illinois.
“We’ve battled, we just haven’t played well enough on the road,” Turgeon said. “We’ve been close, but there’s probably three games that could [have gone] differently.”