This story has been updated.
Senior Night festivities were in full effect Friday night for the Maryland men’s basketball team’s two seniors, guard Andrew Terrell and forward Ivan Bender.
Terrell was greeted pre-game at midcourt by waving towels throughout the Xfinity Center crowd, honoring his trademark towel-over-the-shoulder look, while Bender surprised his longtime girlfriend at midcourt by getting on one knee and proposing to her (She said yes).
And by the end of Maryland’s final game before the Big Ten tournament, Terrell and Bender received standing ovations as they played out the final minute of a 69-60 win over Minnesota.
“What a great night,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “From Ivan surprising his teammates and asking his girlfriend to marry him, and her saying yes, which I was really worried about. He told me about it this week, we’re going to do it. He made me the ring bearer, which I happily did. It was really cool.”
“To be able to get Andrew in the game, which was great. Seeing that sort of script. So that was terrific.”
Junior guard Anthony Cowan Jr. and freshman forward Jalen Smith combined for 40 points, and sophomore forward Bruno Fernando picked up his 20th double-double of the season (11 points, 11 rebounds) despite sitting out most of the first half with two fouls.
After dropping its last two games, and losing the last three of five, Maryland (22-9, 13-7) finished its regular season with a relatively clean game (nine turnovers) and took advantage of Minnesota’s 13 turnovers, turning it into 18 points.
The Terrapins only shot 41 percent from the field but held the Golden Gophers (19-12, 9-11) to 38 percent shooting from the field.
“It’s never easy,” Turgeon said of forcing turnovers. “But what’s easy is when your defense is locked in. That helps.
“Guys are just making better decisions. They’re getting in the paint, not rushing things.”
After struggling in Maryland’s last two losses, Cowan got off to a fast start, making four of his first five shots. While he cooled off later in the first half and Fernando was relegated to the bench with two fouls, Smith picked up the slack, hitting two 3-pointers en route to 11 first-half points.
“Obviously I’m a big part of what we’re doing,” Fernando said, “and whenever I get in foul trouble, sometimes we go down as a team. But everyone was able to just stay locked in and do the things we do, offensively and defensively.”
“The season has been up and down for me,” Smith said. “I’ve had a lot of good games and a lot of bad games, but it’s all part of the process. And all my teammates just tell me to keep my head up. They say I’m one of the most important pieces to the team, so that just helps me out a lot more going into the next game.”
Maryland led by as many as 22 halfway through the second half and relied heavily on the one-two punch of Cowan and Smith, while getting the customary double-double from Fernando.
“It’s obvious, I have to play well to win,” said Cowan, who combined to shoot 10-for-25 in Maryland’s last two losses. “I understand that. It’s no extra pressure on me. I just know what I’m capable of.”
The Terrapins currently sit as the No. 5 seed in the Big Ten tournament, which commences on March 13 in Chicago, but could move up to the No. 4 seed and a double-bye with a Wisconsin loss at Ohio State and Purdue finishing ahead of Michigan.
“I think the Big Ten tournament is up in the air more than it has ever been,” Cowan said, “in terms of any team could just go on a run. So I don’t see why it can’t be us.”