The No. 5 Maryland Terrapins have grown accustomed to slow starts this year. It’s seldom that the Terps gain a big lead in the first half.
And for the second straight game, the Terps found themselves down at halftime. They played arguably their worst half of the year, turning the ball over 11 times and shooting 30 percent. However, Harvard could not capitalize and only led by four, leaving the door open for Maryland to rally in the second 20 minutes of action and pick up an 80-73 win.
Maryland went on their typical second-half run to start the half and when Aaron Wiggins hit a three to make the score 39-37, the Terps had their first lead. But Harvard would not go away. Senior guard Bryce Aiken was the best player on the floor, scoring at all three levels. The Crimson responded to Wiggins’ three with their own run and it was capped by an Aiken three to give them a 47-40 lead.
With the game on the cusp of getting away from the Terps, it was Maryland’s senior point guard Anthony Cowan who took over. Trailing by seven, Cowan hit a mid-range jumper followed by a three-pointer to make it a two-point game. Harvard pushed the lead back to four, but Cowan got to the stripe and cut the lead back to two.
On the ensuing possession, Cowan ripped the ball from Noah Kirkwood and fed Jalen Smith for a monster slam to tie the game. Cowan finished his personal run with another three-pointer and Maryland was up 56-53. Yet the Crimson would not fade just yet, tying it up at 58.
Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon finally went away from his bench in the second half, and in this game in general. It was the lowest total bench minutes for the Terps this season. Turgeon closed the game with his most experienced five of Cowan, Wiggins, Smith, Eric Ayala and Darryl Morsell for the last 7:49 of the game.
Tied at 58, Ayala hit a massive three-pointer to give them the lead they would not look back from. They got buckets from everybody down the stretch to pull away and secure a victory. The five that finished the game all scored in double figures with Cowan leading the group for the second straight day with 20 points.
After a quiet game on Thursday, Morsell had a big bounce-back performance. Morsell had some important tip-ins and baskets in the first half to keep the Terps in it. The Baltimore native had a career-high 12 rebounds, with six coming on the offensive end.
The Terps shot a season-high 40 free throws but struggled from the line, making only 25. Nonetheless, Maryland was able to pull away and move to 7-0.
They will conclude the Orlando Invitational on Sunday at 1 p.m. against the winner of USC and Marquette. Regardless of the winner, it will be Maryland’s toughest opponent this year.
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