By Max Marcilla
The final minute of Maryland basketball’s 59-54 loss to the Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten tournament perfectly encapsulated the team’s season-long struggles.
The Terps were close. They got the stop they needed with 46 seconds left, but allowed the offensive rebound. They had a chance to tie the game with a pair of free thro ws, but Kevin Huerter missed the front end. They had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, but Dion Wiley threw it away.
“We just didn’t make the plays down the stretch, it seemed like in almost every game we lost,” Huerter said. We can look back and say it was the same thing over and over. We never fixed it.”
With just over four minutes left, freshman sensation Bruno Fernando battled traffic, and muscled his way into the lane to finish a game-tying layup. With the score knotted at 47, the defensive slugfest picked up some offensive action.
Huerter rattled off six straight Terrapin points, but Maryland never led, but the Badgers always had an answer. Jumpers by Davison and Pritzl kept Wisconsin ahead in the final minute.
Maryland still had its chances, but perhaps no blunder was more disappointing than the errant inbounds pass that prohibited the Terps from even getting a chance to tie the game.
“We ran the play,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “[We] had a guy run the play wrong. So not what we wanted.”
Wisconsin’s offense never got in the rhythm of the game — but it didn’t need to. Maryland committed 14 fouls in the second half and sent the Badgers to the line 24 times, where they scored 20 points.
Despite Maryland’s late-game woes, Huerter said that Turgeon isn’t to blame, although he will be on the receiving end of criticism.
“Coach Turgeon doesn’t miss rebounds; Coach Turgeon doesn’t miss a free throw. Coach Turgeon doesn’t throw the ball away,” Huerter said. “Coach Turgeon doesn’t execute plays when we’re supposed to execute plays that we practiced multiple times. That’s all on the players.”
Maryland will await its NIT fate, hoping to continue its season with some form of postseason basketball. The Terps’ wait will be longer than most years because of the Big Ten’s decision to move its conference tournament up a week.