Maryland basketball has consistently turned to one player this year when in need of a big bucket. He delivered once again Saturday night. Indeed, for Maryland basketball: when in doubt, trust Anthony Cowan. The senior guard has shown his calm demeanor on a constant basis in closing minutes. Saturday in East Lansing, Cowan was locked in when it mattered most. With about a minute remaining in the game, the Terps would take almost all of the shot clock to find an open shot. A ball fake by Aaron Wiggins caught the Spartan defense off rotation, leaving Cowan wide open.
Hand down, man down.
With little effort to close out by Rocket Watts, Cowan pulled it from long range and hit a shot that gave the Terps the lead.
“This game I really didn’t do too much on the dribble, it was my teammates setting me up,” said Cowan. “All I had to do was knock it down.”
Prior to the start of the season, most polls considered Michigan State the best team in the nation. Now that the Spartans no longer have a number beside their name, they seemed to have a much larger chip on their shoulder going into this match. The unranked Spartans looked to defend home court against the No. 9 Terps and reassert themselves in Big Ten play. But they ultimately fell short to the scorching hot Maryland squad. Cowan and Jalen Smith combined for 41 to lead the Terps to a 67-60 win against Michigan State.
“That’s four in a row for us on the road and everybody was wondering if we were ever gonna win one on the road,” said Head Coach Mark Turgeon.
The Spartans quickly took control, and established a five-point lead early. But two threes by Cowan promptly eliminated the minor deficit, allowing the Terps to control the score line for the rest of the half. The final 19 minutes of the first half featured a physical Terps squad that out-rebounded, out shot and largely outplayed the Spartans on their own home court.
While Cowan produced a team high 13 points early in the half, Eric Ayala broke out on a run of his own as the half winded down, scoring seven in three possessions. However, facing a double-digit lead with two minutes remaining in the half, the Spartans made a final push with a 7-0 run. With momentum, the home team completed the half down 39-31 to the Terps. Despite Xavier Tillman and Cassius Winston combining for 23 first half points, only Thomas Kither converted more than one field goal.
The Spartans carried over their tremendous three-minute performance at the end of the first half. They started the second half with a 15-8 run in the opening 10 minutes. Center Jalen Smith generated six of Maryland’s eight and make up for most of the Terps offensive lapses throughout the half.
“I wish we were a little deeper,” said Turgeon referring to his six-man rotation. “Hopefully we’ll get deeper as the season goes on”
In the second half, many of the Spartans role players drained crucial baskets. Michigan State slowly inched closer, and the play of Smith was not enough. A corner three by Kyle Ahrens tied the game at 51 and a fast break pull up three by Winston in the ensuing possession gave the Spartans their first lead since the opening minutes.
The Spartans sustained a modest seven-point lead with three minutes to go. Smith splashed a three to cut the deficit to four and halt the Michigan State run. Then, Cowan single handedly willed the Terps to victory. Down 56-60, the senior guard took matters into his own hands, scoring the final 11 points of the game. Cowan would score threes in three consecutive possessions regardless of whether he was wide open or contested. Cowan chose the perfect time to heat up and the Terps stole the win late.
With the victory, the Terps improved to 21-4 and claimed their eighth straight win.