By: Eric Myers
As a high school senior committed to play basketball at Maryland, Anthony Cowan sat in the basement with his dad to watch his future team take on Wisconsin on the road. In the waning seconds of that tied game, Melo Trimble waited for the clock to run down, then confidently rose to take the game-winning shot to bury the Badgers.
“I was like ‘knockdown’ as soon as it left his hands,” Cowan said.
Soon thereafter, Cowan became Trimble’s back court running mate, but the then freshman guard deferred to Trimble and his late game heroics in big moments.
Two years removed from the Melo Trimble era, and without a lethal 3-point shooter in Kevin Huerter, the onus to shine when the game is on the line falls squarely on the shoulders of Cowan’s 6-foot frame.
On Monday night, as the No. 19 Terrapins were mired in a field goal drought that spanned over 10 minutes, Cowan shouldered that responsibility once again and delivered on a 3-point shot with a dwindling shot clock to help Maryland recapture the lead in the final minute.
The location, the hesitation and the Terrapin exhilaration of Cowan’s shot was almost an exact replica to the one that Cowan saw Trimble take against Wisconsin three years prior. Both Cowan and Trimble faced a clock about to expire, both guards gave a slight hesitation dribble and both buried the shot to lift a ranked Maryland team over Wisconsin.
Melo Trimble’s game-winning shot against Wisconsin three years ago is damn near identical to Anthony Cowan Jr’s tonight #Maryland #Terps pic.twitter.com/JX1PfcfvDd— Joe Schiller (@JoeSchiller123) January 15, 2019
“Do you remember Melo Trimble?” head coach Mark Turgeon said after Cowan’s shot. “Two local kids that have done it for us… at the timeout we said ‘Hey, late in the clock, if we don’t have anything, just get out of Anthony’s way,’ and we did. And those are the ones he makes.”
That adjustment during the last media timeout came after Cowan received the ball in a similar late shot clock scenario and freshman forward Jalen Smith came out to the top of the key to set a screen on Cowan’s defender. After the screen, Cowan dribbled into the paint and lost his footing and the ball for a turnover.
After the adjustment, as Maryland found themselves trailing after relinquishing a 21 point lead, Cowan received a pass well beyond the 3-point arc with eight seconds remaining on the shot clock. Smith once again wandered outside the paint and looked intent on setting another screen before Turgeon– nearly the sixth man of Maryland’s offense– emphatically waved him off.
“When the shot clock went down, [Turgeon] just wanted the ball in Anthony’s hands and he wanted four low, he didn’t want no ball screens, just let him play his game,” sophomore guard Darryl Morsell said. “And that just comes from [Cowan] being an older guy, being in the system and coach Turgeon trusting him– the whole team trusting him as well.”
That trust that Turgeon has in Cowan in late clock situations reflects how he was during Trimble’s time in the crucial moments, when Turgeon also directed players back to give his guard room to operate.
When Cowan received the pass from Wiggins with about nine seconds on the clock, he calmly and deliberately got to a spot on the floor where he was comfortable making a play during a moment that he’s grown accustomed to.
“It wasn’t like it was my first time with the ball [in that spot]. But, just make a play. I knew we was down one, I seen the defender kind of sagging off a little bit, so I just pulled up.”