Five Terps scored in double figures, but once again Maryland fell on the road, 74-70 to the Nittany Lions.
Maryland began the game attacking the basket and scored their first six points either at the free-throw line, or in the paint.
Twice the Terrapins lead grew to six points in the first half. Freshman Darryl Morsell’s layup assisted by fellow freshman Bruno Fernando pushed the Terps lead to 10-4 three minutes into the game.
After the Nittany Lions tied the game back up at ten a piece, Maryland once again extended their lead to six points after a mini 5-0 run by Kevin Huerter gave a 20-14 advantage to the Terps.
Unfortunately, Maryland has struggled to close out halves strong with the limited options off the bench and healthy players able to even play in general.
Michal Cekovsky was sidelined again tonight with a bruised heel which further limited head coach Mark Turgeon’s frontcourt options.
Penn State closed the half on a 9-2 run to lead by six points at halftime.
In the second half, Maryland was able to cut Penn State’s lead to one point after an Anthony Cowan three-pointer went down. But, that was the closest the Terps would come as Penn State never trailed the entire second half.
Looking at the box score is misleading since Maryland shot a higher percentage from two (54.3% to 51.9%), three (52.9% to 42.9%), and at the free-throw line (78.6% to 61.1%) than Penn State.
However, what does not show up in those three stat categories were Maryland’s turnovers and Penn State’s offensive rebounds.
The Terps surrendered nine offensive rebounds to the Nittany Lions and committed four more turnovers (14 to 10).
One of the more infuriating things about Maryland’s turnovers are that most are often unforced on lazy passes with no real imminent pressure from the opponent.
Cowan played all forty minutes and finished with 15 points on 4-7 shooting and five rebounds. He also missed a key layup late in the game which could have cut the deficit to a point in the final minute.
Huerter, Fernando and senior Jared Nickens off the bench, all scored 13 points. Fernando came up one rebound shy of a double-double with nine. Huerter added five rebounds and five assists to go along with his points. Nickens shot 50% from the floor, including going 3-7 from deep.
Morsell was the fifth Terrapin to finish in double figures with ten points on 5-8 shooting from the floor.
Besides Nickens, no other Maryland player attempted a field goal off the bench.
Joshua Tomaic saw only two minutes of action and committed one foul with zeroes across the board in every other stat category.
Senior grad transfer Sean Obi has been a foul machine as of late and committed three fouls in just ten minutes of game action to go along with two rebounds.
Maryland’s injury bug has severely hindered the team’s success this year, but this team continues to fight hard and remain close in many games recently. The lack of depth, scoring options, and high number of turnovers is not a recipe for success for an under-manned team to win any game, let alone on the road.
At this point, Maryland’s NCAA tournament hopes for an at large bid are essentially impossible and unless the Terps catch fire at the conference tournament, this team will likely be an NIT team at best.
Maryland (16-10, 5-8), will travel home and host the Northwestern Wildcats in a Saturday game at noon broadcasted on ESPN2.