Sarah Sopher/The Left Bench

No. 17 Terps start strong but can’t hold on, fall to No. 9 Michigan

In No. 17 Maryland’s first game of March, the Terps came out strong against No. 9 Michigan, but could not keep the momentum rolling in the second half as they fell to the Wolverines, 69-62, in front of a sold-out Xfinity Center Sunday.

“That’s a hard team to guard and our defense was pretty good until the very end so were just disappointed,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said. “We’re disappointed we didn’t win. It was out 100 years celebration and we had our players back.”

With 15:39 left in the game, Anthony Cowan found a wide open Jalen Smith under the hoop and he slammed it home, giving Maryland a 36-35 lead and their first of the second half. That dunk would give Smith a 6-0 run of his own, and it seemed as if him and Bruno Fernando were on their way to a dominant performance.

Fernando would then give the Terrapins another lead at 43-41 with 11:23 left, but a four-minute scoring drought would allow Michigan to take a 46-43 lead; a lead they would not give up for the rest of the game.

“We were right there, a couple of plays here and there and a couple of bounces, this game could have went a different direction,” Maryland guard Darryl Morsell said.

The Wolverine lead grew to nine after Jon Teske’s first three of the night (he was 0-5 prior) and Michigan led 58-49 with just over three minutes left.

Teske ended with 11 points on 5-13 shooting and 10 rebounds for the Wolverines.

Both teams would trade baskets down the final stretch, but Maryland could never close the gap. Michigan would give Maryland their first Big Ten home loss of the season.

With four minutes left in the game, Cowan, Maryland’s leading scorer, was 1-11 from the field with three turnovers. Cowan is one of Maryland’s key offensive components, so the Terps had to look for offense in other places.

Cowan finished with 10 points after a couple of field goals in the final minutes, but it was too little, too late at that point.

One of those places was Morsell. He made his first three of the game and ended with 10 points.

Smith really stepped up today too for Maryland. He opened up the scoring Sunday, making his first three. He was able to score 11 points and grab five rebounds for Maryland, but ultimately the freshman was not able to make a big enough difference for Maryland to comeback and win.

Fernando ended with a team-high 12 points on 5-13 shooting and 10 rebounds, but his failure to make shots he normally puts down was a main reason Maryland was not able to pull out the win.

“We had to play Bruno too many minutes tonight,” Turgeon said. “We just didn’t have the depth and their players are good but Bruno probably missed four layups at the rim that maybe could have gotten us going.”

The only other Terp in double figures was Eric Ayala, with 10 on 4-7 shooting.
Turnovers are something Maryland has struggled with all year, and Sunday against Michigan was no different. The Terps committed nine turnovers (averaging 13.4 per game) to Michigan’s four and this continues the trend of Maryland having more turnovers than their opponent in every Big Ten game this season.

“On a positive note, we turned the ball over less,” Turgeon said. “We had a turnover the last possession with guys denying so we did a better job with that, but it wasn’t enough.”

Michigan was really struggling from behind the arc in the first half, shooting 1-11 from three, but they turned it around in the second half.

After halftime the Wolverines were able to make five of their nine three-point attempts, and this allowed Michigan to climb ahead and not give up their lead.

Michigan’s leading scorer, Ignas Brazdeikis, led the Wolverines today with 21 points and seven rebounds the main catalyst in the second half. He seemed to get whatever shot he wanted and his scoring led Michigan to the win.

Zavier Simpson was also huge for the Wolverines. His 12 points on 6-7 shooting and 10 assists were probably the difference maker in Michigan’s win.

Maryland now takes on Minnesota on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. in College Park for the conclusion of the regular season and senior night.