Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Maryland men’s basketball drops close bout with Iowa, 80-75

By Logan Hill

With his team up by four with less than 40 seconds to play, Tony Perkins attempted a turn around jumper as the shot clock winded down. He airballed his attempt, but Keegan Murray grabbed the offensive rebound and put it back in to effectively thwart Maryland’s attempt at a comeback.

Maryland men’s basketball wasn’t up to the task against Murray and the Iowa Hawkeyes on the road, falling to Iowa for its fifth loss of the season, 80-75.

“I thought our effort level gave us a chance, and that’s what you want on the road,” head coach Danny Manning said. “You want to be within striking distance, and we weren’t quite within striking distance, but we continued to battle and fight.”

Coming into the game leading the nation in scoring, Murray started things off hot from the field. Making four of his first five shots, he showcased his offensive arsenal as Iowa rushed out to an early 18-7 lead.

“[Murray] is a first round draft pick, he’s a lottery pick, that’s what one looks like,” Manning said. “We got a chance to see it up close and personal today.”

Forced into an early hole, Maryland initially struggled to find the consistency to draw things even.

Hakim Hart drilled a three pointer to help cut the lead to eight, and Julian Reese provided energetic minutes off the bench, but Maryland’s inability to contain Murray kept Iowa ahead. 

In a two-possession sequence, Murray’s twin brother Kris Murray went to the line and made a free throw, and then Keegan Murray hit his second three to again put the lead at 12.

“We let them get their rhythm with their transition opportunities and it kind of just opened the floodgates from there,” Manning said.

Finally, Maryland went on a run.

Spurred by a three from Eric Ayala, Maryland scored 11 straight points to make it a one point ball game with under 10 minutes in the first half. Following Ayala’s triple, Qudus Wahab split a pair at the line, then Fatts Russell added five of his own, sandwiching a fastbreak slam from Hart. In just a couple of minutes, Iowa’s double-digit lead was now a slim 24-23 advantage.

The two sides traded baskets down the stretch of the first half, with the game being tied three different times.

With just under six minutes to go, the Terps pulled in front.

On offense, Russell handled the ball on almost every possession, finding Wahab in the middle of the court time and again for some close-range opportunities. Wahab asserted himself, making a pair of baskets and a free throw during Maryland’s run. 

On the other end of the floor, Manning’s squad forced difficult shots, as Iowa made just two of its final 10 attempts in the first 20 minutes of play.

Calculated offense paired with sound defensive effort allowed Maryland to close the half on a 10-6 run, heading into the break ahead 40-36.

The scoring picked up where it left off to start the second half.

The two sides traded baskets coming out of the locker room, with no let up in intensity. Murray briefly knotted things up at 47 with another three, again scoring nine more of his game high 35 in quick fashion.

Then, Iowa took the lead.

After Wahab put Maryland back ahead by two separate times, Murray drilled his fourth three of the game to give Iowa the advantage back. On the Terps’ next possession, Wahab was swarmed by four defenders in the middle of the paint. He was stripped, and Tony Perkins leaked out for a fast break slam to put Iowa ahead 56-53.

With just over nine minutes to play, Ayala hit his fourth three of the game to cut the Hawkeyes’ lead back to one — but it would be short-lived.

Following a scoreless lull, Iowa went on a 9-0 run, attacking all over the floor to open up a 68-58 lead with 5:22 remaining. Maryland attempted to respond, briefly cutting the lead to four after Eric Ayala was fouled from beyond the arc. 

But the Hawkeyes stayed on the attack.

After Ayala missed an attempt from the left corner, Russell fouled Jordan Bohannon as he corralled the rebound. The foul put Iowa into the double bonus, and Bohannon drilled both free throws, putting Iowa ahead 72-66 with 1:50 to go.

Hart cut the deficit to four with a pair of made attempts from the stripe after an offensive rebound, but Murray matched the free throws on Iowa’s next possession to keep the lead at six.

Hart again cut it to four by hitting another pair from the line with 65 seconds left, but Murray’s putback quickly returned the lead to six points.

After Ayala trimmed the lead to two with another three late, he was fouled with four seconds remaining to prevent a three point try. Missing the first free throw, he was whistled for a violation on the second attempt.

“Learning experience for me,” Ayala said. “Gotta hit the rim in a situation like that.”

Following a timeout, Bohannon made two free throws, putting Iowa back up by two possessions to close out the game.

“No moral victories, but there’s some areas where we feel like [if] we get better, we’ll give ourselves a chance to win any game that we play,” Manning said.

The loss dropped Maryland to 8-5 on the season and 0-2 in conference play. For a team that endured a December unlike pretty much anyone else in the nation, the loss ended a three-game winning streak as conference play truly gets underway.

“We haven’t finished a whole 40 minute game yet,” Russell said. “[We’re] just encouraging each other, but sometimes the ball doesn’t drop your way.”

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