With 2:35 remaining and the score tied at 62, point guard Anthony Cowan Jr. sprinted from the right baseline to the left side corner in front of the Maryland bench. Catching a feed from Eric Ayala, Cowan, fading away from the basket, drilled a three with confidence. The bucket gave Maryland a 65-62 lead and also pushed Cowan passed his previous career high of 27 points.
Temple would not go away easily, but Ayala iced the game for Maryland, finishing a clutch layup with 27 seconds remaining to put the Terps on top 72-67. Ayala drove hard to the basket and executed a ball fake to perfection, confusing J.P Moorman II, en route to a nifty finish. Cowan and Ayala’s clutch plays down the stretch guided Maryland (6-0) to a hard fought 76-69 victory over Temple.
Maryland started slow once again, trailing 16-7 at the under-16 media timeout. The Owls came out of the gates firing, hitting four of their first seven shots from three. Meanwhile, Maryland struggled. But it soon bounced back with a 9-0 run of its own to tie the score. The remainder of the first half was a continued back and forth affair, with the Owls leading 34-29 at the break.
Ball security was an issue for the Terps in the first half — they tallied 11 turnovers, right at their season average. Temple turned Maryland’s sloppy mistakes into 16 points, quickly pushing the pace in transition. Alani Moore II and Moorman each scored 10 points in the first half, serving as catalysts for the Owls offense.
After trailing by five at the break, Maryland rattled off a 9-3 run in the first three minutes to retake the lead 38-37. Cowan scored seven of the nine points during the run, continuing to provide a boost for Maryland offensively. Temple bounced right back however, executing a 5-0 run of their own to retake the lead 42-38.
On the next possession, Jalen Smith knocked down his first three of the season, an encouraging sign for the Terps sophomore big who struggled from the perimeter the first five games of the season. He found his stroke once again, this time at a vital moment.
With 3:57 remaining, Smith buried his second three of the game from the right corner on an outstanding cross-court feed from Cowan. The three gave Maryland a 62-60 lead and forced the Owls defense to respect Smith’s perimeter shooting ability.
Down the stretch, it continued to be a back and forth affair, with each team trading baskets. With 1:13 remaining, Ayala knocked down a three to put Maryland on top 70-64, with Smith feeding him out of a double team. Ayala’s clutch three initially appeared to be a dagger, but Moore II bounced right back with a three of his own to make it a one possession game once again. Up by three with 12 seconds left, Cowan put the finishing touches on his career-high 30 point day, knocking down a pair of free throws to put Maryland back up 74-69, icing the game for the Terps.
Ayala and Cowan’s clutch plays down the stretch highlighted a battle of two teams with outstanding guards. The Terps won’t have long to rest and recover facing the winner of Texas A&M and Harvard, tomorrow at 11:30 a.m.