By: Eric Myers
When the buzzer sounded on Maryland’s last game against Michigan State, the scoreboard showed the margin of defeat was 30 points. Although head coach Mark Turgeon felt that his team learned a lot from the loss and could make the necessary improvements, a loss of that proportion has the potential to rattle a young team like Maryland.
“It was tough losing by 30, it was embarrassing,” freshman Bruno Fernando said. “But it doesn’t stop us from thinking and knowing that we’re a great team [and] we can get better every single time.”
The freshman and team’s confidence in spite of the 91-61 loss against the Spartans was fortified when Maryland (14-4, 3-2) rallied in the second half to a convincing 91-73 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes (9-9, 0-5) Sunday night at the Xfinity Center.
After an inauspicious start that saw Maryland fall behind by as many as 10 points in the opening stages, which caused doubts about this team’s ability to bounce back from the loss, the Terps found their offensive rhythm.
The home team reeled off 11 consecutive field goals during a 26-9 run that spanned five and a half minutes to take a 33-26 lead with under nine minutes to play in the first half. Maryland, who had not attempted a three-point shot until that run, made its three consecutive perimeter shots, one from Kevin Huerter and two from Dion Wiley– who had 10 first half points off the bench– at the beginning of the scoring barrage.
Iowa withstood the Maryland run due in large part to its perimeter marksmanship during the opening half. The Hawkeyes outscored the Terps from the outside 21-9, including nine points from the three-point arc from sophomore Jordan Bohannon.
With 50 seconds remaining in the first half, Senior center Michal Cekovsky converted a contested hook shot in the post to give Maryland a 45-42 advantage.
On the following inbounds, Bohannon was being harassed by Anthony Cowan as he brought the ball across the midcourt stripe before being whistled for a travel. Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery needed to be restrained by two assistants and another official as he received two technicals and an ejection while disputing the call.
Maryland took a 48-44 lead into halftime despite its two leading scorers, Cowan and Huerter, combining for just seven points on 1-for-6 shooting.
“I just said something to my staff, I said ‘our two best players gotta start playing better,’” Turgeon recalled.
The sophomore duo combined to seize Iowa’s momentum early in the second frame after Maryland struggled once again at the beginning of the half which allowed Iowa to take a 54-50 lead. A jump shot from Cowan (15 points) followed by a transition opportunity where Cowan found Huerter (12 points) on the wing for a three-point shot allowed the Terps to reclaim the lead at 55-54.
A three-pointer from Bohannon, who finished the game with 17 points including shooting 5-for-10 from beyond the three-point line, broke a 61-61 stalemate and gave Iowa a three point lead with 11 minutes to play.
Maryland took control of the game from that point on as they rallied for a 19-2 run over the next six minutes, capped off by a dunk from Darryl Morsell, to take a commanding 80-68 lead with five minutes remaining.
The Terps’ win was punctuated with an exclamation point when Fernando, who finished with 21 points and seven rebounds, threw down alley-oops on consecutive possessions, the second of which came in emphatic fashion as the 6-foot-10 Angolan native took flight for a dunk over an Iowa defender while also drawing the foul before converting the following free throw to complete the three-point play.
— Maryland Basketball (@TerrapinHoops) January 8, 2018
The dunk from Fernando only further epitomized Maryland’s dominance on the interior as they outscored Iowa 56-22 in points in the paint, aided by Cekovsky’s 13 points on 5-for-5 shooting, to go along with a 31-28 rebounding edge.
Maryland will play next when they travel to Columbus, Ohio to take on Ohio State Thursday night. The Buckeyes are coming off of an 80-64 home win over the top-ranked Michigan State Spartans.
“We definitely needed this win [against Iowa],” Cekovsky said. “It was a huge win for us. [The] next game is [always] the biggest game for us. Now it’s Ohio State.”