Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Maryland men’s basketball drops tight bout with No. 23 Wisconsin, 70-69

Leading by one with less than four seconds to play, Brad Davison was fouled. 

The Badgers’ guard headed to the line and missed the first of two shots, giving Maryland a late glimmer of hope.

He missed the second, and Eric Ayala’s last second shot fell short as the final buzzer sounded, cementing the loss for Maryland.

“I love the fight of our team,” interim head coach Danny Manning said. “We’ve shown that we have the wherewithal to continue to find a way to claw, fight and scratch to get back into the ball game.”

Maryland men’s basketball continued its losing streak when Wisconsin visited the Xfinity Center Sunday night, falling to the Badgers, 70-69.

Wisconsin, led by star guard Johnny Davis, imposed its will through the game’s first couple of minutes. The Badgers started the game off with a 13-4 run to force an early timeout from Manning. Davis started off especially hot, starting 3-3 with seven early points.

Coming out of the timeout, Maryland couldn’t flip the script, with stagnant offense and late defensive rotations making an ugly pairing. The Badgers continued to take advantage with a pair of baskets — the first of which was a three-point play from Tyler Wahl, who finished through a Simon Wright foul to get to the free throw line. While Maryland searched for an answer to its early scoring woes, Wisconsin kept the pressure on.

By the time Maryland reached double digits on the scoreboard, the Terps trailed by 19. 

With just over seven minutes until halftime, the Terps found themselves in a 29-10 hole, looking for any answer on the offensive end after starting just 5-19 from the floor. 

With its prospects of winning looking bleak, Maryland came to life.

Highlighted by an and-one three from Donta Scott, the Terps used a 15-0 run to cut the lead to six, trailing 29-23 with just over three minutes remaining in the first half. In a matter of minutes, Maryland went from a potentially embarrassing half at home to a close contest against a Top-25 opponent. 

“I think we have a great bench,” Xavier Green said. “We give [the starters] a spark and give them something to come to, and keep going and build off of.”

Davis added two more layups for the Badgers, while Hakim Hart netted a trio of free throws to end the first half, with Wisconsin holding on to a slim 33-26 lead in a game the Badgers once dominated.

Maryland began the second half right where it left off, cutting the Badgers’ lead to just three after Fatts Russell scored four quick points. Brad Davison added a basket on the other end, but Ayala made a pull-up three to cut the lead to two.

With 15:27 to play, Maryland took the lead for the first time in the contest.

Riding the hot hand, Ayala pulled his second straight triple, and the shot rattled in, putting the Terps up 36-35, and forcing a Wisconsin timeout in the process.

After taking turns with the lead over the next couple of minutes, a two-possession sequence put the Terps up by three. 

First, Ayala rebounded his own shot, quickly putting it back up off the glass and getting fouled in the process. On the other end, Julian Reese blocked Chucky Hepburn’s jumper, and Ayala pulled down the rebound. He quickly ran the floor and found Reese on the block with a mismatch. Reese hit a turnaround jumper, giving Maryland a 44-41 advantage.

“At halftime, I had a feel for where I’ll be able to get easy shots, how I could help my team, fight [for] that comeback,” Ayala said. 

The Terps’ lead didn’t last long, as both sides continued to jockey for the lead down the stretch.

With 4:02 to go, Steven Crowl put the Badgers back in front. The forward drilled a three from the wing, giving Wisconsin the lead, 60-57.

Hart cut the Badgers’ advantage to a point with a steal and finish on the other end, but Davison quickly moved it back to three with a running jump shot just outside the key.

Russell split a pair at the free throw line with less than a minute to go, cutting the deficit back to two. However, on Wisconsin’s next possession, Davison was flawless from the line, hitting both shots. The two points put Wisconsin up 66-62 as time waned.

On Maryland’s next possession, Russell forced a foul andmade both shots to again cut it to two, but Davis added two more, again creating a four point deficit. 

A furious three-point attempt in the closing seconds from Ayala fell, making the score 70-69 with less than five seconds to go. Davison’s gaffe at the line gave the Terps a chance, but Manning’s squad came up just short once again, dropping to 0-4 in conference play.

“No moral victories, but to play the way we did after being down 21 to one of the better teams in the country, I feel like we’re close to turning the corner,” Manning said.