By: Eric Myers
Entering the game with just one road victory on the season, Maryland desperately needed a win away from home to keep its NCAA Tournament chances alive.
Despite a halftime lead and a battle that came down to the final buzzer, the Terrapins could not salvage a win on the road as James Palmer Jr.’s 24 second half points led Nebraska (20-8,11-4) to a 70-66 win over Maryland (17-11,6-9) on Tuesday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Despite scoring just two points in the first half, and making just one of six attempts, Palmer came out firing in the second half, leading the Nebraska offense and consistently thwarting Maryland’s momentum.
Down four points in the first two and a half minutes, and without a point, Kevin Huerter put Maryland on the scoreboard with a three-point shot from the right wing to get the Terrapins’ offense on track.
Maryland’s game plan was clear from the onset of the game: get the ball to Bruno Fernando against his smaller defender.
After Fernando established himself on the interior in the early stages of the game, Nebraska was forced to bring an extra defender to contain his output. With Maryland down 12-9, Fernando handled the double team and kicked a pass out to Anthony Cowan for his first three points of the game, and Maryland’s first lead of the night.
Maryland jumped out to its largest lead of the first half with a difficult floater from Huerter that made the advantage 27-23 with 4:35 before halftime.
Nebraska threatened to take control of the game on two consecutive possessions that gave the home team the lead. First, Issac Copeland converted a three-point shot from the top of the key.
Then, James Palmer Jr. sent Pinnacle Bank Arena into a frenzy with a highlight reel dunk over Hueter to give the Cornhuskers a 28-27 lead.
With the score knotted at 30 in the dwindling moments of the first half, Cowan drove to the basket and desperately threw up a shot that bounced off the rim into Fernando’s waiting hands for a put back layup with under a second in the half, giving Maryland a 32-30 halftime lead.
Following the halftime break, Nebraska opened up a seven point lead due to a 13-4 run capped by a jump-shot from Palmer to take a 43-36 lead.
The Terps never allowed their deficit to extend beyond seven points by converting timely shots and finding Fernando around the basket.
Down five points with just under three minutes to play, Fernando passed out of a double team, finding Darryl Morsell for a layup to cut the Nebraska lead to three.
A hook shot following an offensive rebound by Fernando brought Maryland’s deficit to 64-63 with 1:40 left in regulation.
Cowan, who struggled to seven points on 3 of 13 shooting, had his go-ahead three-point attempt blocked with 53 seconds left.
A pair of Nebraska free throws from Glynn Watson pushed the Nebraska lead to 68-65 with six seconds to play. The Cornhuskers head coach, Tim Miles, opted to foul Kevin Huerter to put the sophomore at the line.
Needing a make followed by a a miss and a putback opportunity, Huerter converted the first free throw before missing the second with a significant amount of air under the ball.
Maryland was unable to tip its last hope home. Palmer sealed the Nebraska win with two free throws.
Maryland returns to the much friendlier confines of the Xfinity Center on Saturday night to face the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.