Maryland men’s basketball falls to Northwestern in conference opener, 67-61

By Logan Hill

Trailing late and needing points, Qudus Wahab stepped to the line. After making the first, his second free throw clanked off the rim, a representation of the Terps’ feeble comeback attempt down the stretch.

Maryland men’s basketball’s recent struggles continued in its first game under interim head coach Danny Manning, as they suffered their second straight loss to Northwestern at home, 67-61.

“I didn’t expect to be in this position,” Manning said. “But, I am ready to take on responsibility to help and lead this team.”

Despite having a new head coach at the helm, Maryland suffered through another slow start. Opening the game shooting just 28 percent from the field, the Terps let the Wildcats go in front early, leading 13-10 eight minutes into the contest.

Marcus Dockery made an early appearance from the bench, filling one of the spots at guard after Ian Martinez left the game due to injury.

While shooting was spotty from the field, it improved from beyond the arc. Four of Maryland’s first seven makes came from deep, allowing them to tie things up at 18.

Eric Ayala put the Terps in front.

Following a defensive rebound, Fatts Russell received an outlet pass and pushed the ball up the floor. He found Ayala in transition on the wing and unloaded it. Ayala stepped into the quick shot and drilled it, putting Maryland in front 21-18.

From there, the two sides traded buckets, going back and forth to close the first half.

Trailing by one with just under 40 seconds until heading to the locker room, Manning called a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, Maryland turned it over, and the Wildcats held for the last possession. Pete Nance caught an alley-oop pass from Boo Buie and slammed it home with about five seconds to go.

At the half, Northwestern led 30-27.

Coming out of the lockers, the two sides again traded basket for basket, over the second period’s first four minutes.

With things tied at 37, Maryland missed ten shots in a row from the field, going ice cold on the floor.

The Wildcats took advantage.

After taking the lead on a three from Ty Berry, Northwestern saw their lead cut to one after a pair of made free throws by Julian Reese.

However, three straight baskets, two from Chase Audige and another from Elyjah Williams, this one a three pointer, put the Wildcats in front by eight, leading 47-39.

Maryland followed with a run of their own to try to bring things back to even. First Donta Scott went to the line and made a pair of free throws. One possession later, Russell hit a transition three to cut the deficit to three points, trailing 47-44.

The Wildcats quickly took the momentum back, using a 6-0 run to go up nine, only to give up a 7-0 run in return. With just over six minutes to play, Northwestern led 53-51.

A pair of buckets from Audige sandwiched a deep three from Russell, as neither side could pull away for good. With 3:21 to go, Northwestern led 57-54.

Down the stretch,  Nance swung things in the Wildcats’ favor.

Leading by three, Nance hauled in an offensive rebound, and put it back in for two. On the other end he contested and rebounded an inside look from Reese, before quickly hitting a jumper to prompt a Terps timeout.

Maryland closed the game missing its last four shots from the floor, failing to finish the comeback attempt.

Northwestern on the other hand, closed things out on both ends, scoring six points while disrupting the Terps’ offense the rest of the way. 

Free throws from both teams bumped up the score ever so slightly. But in the end, the Wildcats hung on.

“[We’re] right there,” Ayala said. “We just got to watch film and go back and see what ways we can be better.”

For Maryland, their fourth loss of the season drops them to 5-4 on the season, just one game over .500. After making a head coaching change on Friday, a season that began with sky high expectations has veered off course, as the Terps have yet to find consistency for 40 minutes.

“Nobody is going to feel sorry for us,” Manning said. “We got to figure out a way when we get out there.”

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