Freshman Bruno Fernando notched a double-double (20 points & 10 rebounds), but Purdue never trailed and fought off a late Terrapins rally to prevail, 75-67.
This game started off poor for Maryland. It appeared as though Purdue may run the Terps out of the gym after the Boilermakers raced to an early 9-0 lead.
The slow start had to be concerning for Maryland fans as the team in recent games had started fast and energized before the sheer lack of depth would catch up at the end of halves to the players.
Anthony Cowan got Maryland its first points off of a lay-up in transition assisted by freshman Darryl Morsell.
Maryland is a much better team in the transition, but without a deep bench the team often has to slow the tempo of the game to not wear themselves down too early.
In addition to Justin Jackson and Ivan Bender being sidelined for the season, the Terps were playing this game without center Michal Cekovsky due to a heel injury. With only eight scholarship players available to play, the starters were forced to play a majority of the game.
Cowan in the first ten conference games had only been on the bench for 11 minutes. He averages 38 minutes per game in Big Ten play which not surprisingly leads the conference. He played 39 minutes in this one.
Another Terrapin ranks in the top five in minutes per game in Big Ten play. Fellow sophomore Kevin Huerter averages 33 minutes per contest which is good for fifth in the conference. He played 32 minutes in this one.
Despite the heavy burden of minutes on all of the healthy players coach Mark Turgeon could play, the Terps never let this game slip away.
After trailing 16-5 halfway through the first half, Maryland kept the deficit at eleven by halftime, and trailed 35-24.
Fernando got the first five points for the Terps in the second half on a dunk and an old-fashioned three-point play on an offensive rebound to immediately cut Purdue’s lead to just six points.
Purdue responded with a 5-0 run of their own to push the lead right back to eleven.
Maryland continued to hang around, and with 9:17 left to play, found themselves down by just three points after Huerter hit three-pointers on back-to-back trips up the court.
Unfortunately, this was the closest the Terps would get as Purdue called a timeout and followed it with a seven nothing run to regain a double-digit lead, 62-52.
Basketball is not like horseshoes and being close does not count as anything for Maryland in the standings moving forward. However, fans have to admire the adversity this team has showed since the Ohio State blowout and the fact that they never let a top five team in the country run away with this one.
Maryland was aided with Purdue’s poor shooting as well which helped them stay in the game and never let the Boilermakers lead get too large. Purdue shot just 26-58 (44.8%) from the floor, including 7-22 (31.8%) from deep, and 16-23 (69.6%) from the free-throw line.
Maryland did themselves no favors and could not take advantage of the poor shooting as the Terps committed 14 turnovers to Purdue’s four.
Turnovers and injuries have plagued the Terps all season long as conference play is just over halfway done. Maryland (15-9, 4-7) appears to be an NIT team at this point in the season, unless they win out and earn an automatic bid for winning the Big Ten conference tournament come March.