Maryland cannot overcome Michigan’s first half offensive onslaught

Maryland basketball

By Eric Myers

Maryland cannot overcome Michigan’s first half offensive onslaught

After Maryland honored three senior players, and with the home fans dressed in all white for the “White Out” game, it was Michigan who was white-hot from beyond the three-point arch.

Michigan (24-7, 13-5) used that perimeter shooting prowess to open up a 30-point halftime lead before coasting to a 85-61 win over Maryland (19-12, 8-10) on Saturday afternoon at the Xfinity Center.

Michigan failed to score in the first three minutes of the game, but a Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman three-point shot opened the floodgates for a prolific offensive first half.

After Anthony Cowan Jr. drove to the lane for a layup, giving Maryland a 12-11 lead at the 13:28 mark, Michigan took control by scoring the next nine points.

Kevin Huerter halted the scoring run with a three from the right wing, Maryland’s only long-range shot in the first half, to bring Maryland back to within five points.

The Wolverines rallied off a number of scoring spurts, exponentially expanding their advantage with each three-point shot that fell.

Michigan unleashed a barrage of threes, scoring 33 of its 54 first half points from the perimeter. Abdur-Rahkman made six of Michigan’s 11 outside shots in the first half. Michigan led 54-24 at halftime, as the Terrapins allowed a season-high for points in a half.

“It was just one of those days,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said about the team’s defensive effort. “No matter what button you tried to push or what you tried to say, it just wasn’t going to get corrected.”

In search of a spark in the lopsided affair, Turgeon turned to freshman walk-on Reese Mona to give the Terrapins much-needed energy. The Maryland native sent the Xfinity Center crowd into a frenzy, even given the 24-point deficit, when he took a pass from Cowan and converted a fastbreak layup with 16:46 to play.

Maryland’s attempt to chip away at the Michigan lead was aided by their ability to get to the free-throw line. The Terps forced their way into the bonus with just over 13 minutes to play. After just four free-throw attempts in the first half, Maryland attempted 16 free throws in the second half.

Despite outscoring Michigan by six points in the second half, Maryland’s deficit proved to be insurmountable as they fell 85 to 61 behind Abdur-Rahkman’s career-high 28 points to go along with eight rebounds and seven assists. The Wolverines outscored Maryland 45-9 on perimeter shots.

The Terrapins received contributions from their three leading scorers, Cowan with 17 points, Huerter with 12 points, and Bruno Fernando who also added 12. Their secondary options failed to supplement their performances as Jared Nickens, Dion Wiley and Darryl Morsell combined for just 12 points in the game.

The 24-point loss is the worst loss in the Xfinity Center’s history (also previously named the Comcast Center), as the next worst Maryland home loss came in 1987 at Cole Field House.

Maryland’s loss does not come at the expense of Big Ten tournament seeding, as it had already locked up the eighth seed with a matchup against ninth-seeded Wisconsin on Thursday at noon.

The loss, however, further complicates their postseason picture as they miss out on yet another chance for a marquee win on their tournament resume.

“Our second season is coming up pretty quickly. We’ve got a little less than a week to prepare for [Wisconsin in the Big Ten tournament],” Huerter said. “We’ve got to find a way to put this behind us.”