It certainly wasn’t a pretty performance from the Maryland basketball team on Saturday evening.
Despite trailing at halftime, the Terrapins were able to fend off a pesky Illinois squad 62-56.
Anthony Cowan scored a game-high 19 points (5-of-7 shooting) and grabbed seven rebounds. Fellow guards Jaylen Brantley and Melo Trimble added 12 points apiece for Maryland.
The Terps started off the game strong as they jumped out to an early 5-2 lead in the first 1:28. Trimble connected on a three-pointer on Maryland’s first field goal attempt and Cowan added a layup exactly 60 seconds later.
Maryland then went on to miss their next six shots. An L.G. Gill jumper at the 15:04 mark finally stopped the bleeding to give the Terps a 7-6 advantage.
During that cold stretch, the Fighting Illini only made two of their four shots, so they weren’t able to bury the Terps.
With 14:48 left in the first half, Jalen Coleman-Lands drilled a shot from beyond the arc to give Illinois a 9-7 lead. The Fighting Illini were able to slowly but surely increase their advantage as the first 20 minutes rolled along.
At the 4:46 mark, star guard Malcolm Hill splashed home a three from the wing on a catch-and-shoot play. That increased Illinois’ lead to 27-16, which turned out to be their largest of the game.
After the first 20 minutes, Maryland trailed 32-27, but did get four points in the final eight seconds to trim it down. Trimble stole the basketball from Hill at midcourt with just seconds remaining and converted a tough reverse layup at the buzzer.
Maryland came out in the second half and missed their first three shots. The first two came from Justin Jackson, who was held scoreless for the first time as a Terp.
Jackson scored just three points against American in the season opener. However, this was by far his worst outing as he failed to score in 25 minutes.
The Terps did manage to chip away at the deficit. With 12:07 left in the game, Brantley rebounded an Illinois miss at one end and made a very impressive layup off a shot fake.
Brantley’s layup gave Maryland a 44-43 lead.
Maryland would not relinquish that advantage for the rest of the game. The Terps would lead by as many as 10 points.
Illinois trimmed the lead to 57-53 with under a minute to play after a three from Leron Black.
Cowan would make five of six free throws in the final 50 seconds to ice it for Maryland. His 19 points were a career high.
The Terps definitely didn’t play their best basketball in this one. When it was all said and done, they shot just 27.3 percent (6-of-22) from beyond the arc.
Only three players scored in double figures. One of the positives was that Maryland outrebounded Illinois 39-33 on the night.
The Terps return to the court on Thursday when they travel to Iowa for a 7:00 tip.