By: Eric Myers
With the game hanging in the balance for nearly its entirety, neither team took definitive control of the game, but Purdue made just enough plays down the stretch to earn a 62-60 win for their first Big Ten game of the season.
Maryland, meanwhile, did not make a field goal in the final 4 minutes and 20 seconds of the game before Purdue’s Nojel Eastern blocked away its final chance to steal a road victory in West Lafayette, Indiana.
After Jalen Smith hit a mid-range jumper from a few steps beyond the free-throw line to bring Maryland within three points of Purdue, the Terrapins missed all four of their shots down the stretch and committed two turnovers.
During that final stretch of play, the shot clock repeatedly ticked down on Maryland, which forced Anthony Cowan to attempt multiple difficult shots over the outstretched arms of bigger Purdue defenders.
That trend repeated itself at the end of the game, with Maryland inbounding the ball with 3 seconds remaining. Maryland had run out of timeouts and Darryl Morsell struggled to find an open man for the inbound pass– and almost reached the allotted 5 seconds. Cowan sprinted forward to ensure Maryland would get the pass in, but Eastern was in position to block his rushed game-winning shot attempt.
In a game that was tightly contested throughout, missed opportunities will haunt the Terrapins. Maryland’s turnover woes traveled with them to Purdue as they gave away 17 possessions. Head coach Mark Turgeon said in the days leading up to the game that Maryland couldn’t turn the ball over 17 or 18 times and expect to win, and that intuition proved to be correct.
Maryland started the game out shooting the ball well from outside. Four of Maryland’s first five made shots were from beyond the 3-point arc. Maryland got surprising contributions from the perimeter from Jalen Smith, who made his third 3-pointer of the season, and Ricky Lindo Jr., who made his first shot from beyond the arc. After starting 4-of-5, Maryland finished the game shooting 9-of-27.
A 10-0 run early in the first half helped propel Maryland to a four-point halftime lead, after the two sides exchanged scores throughout the majority of the first half.
Maryland led for 21 consecutive minutes in the game, until Purdue’s Aaron Wheeler converted a layup to give the Boilermakers a 47-46 lead, their first advantage since early in the first half.
Cowan, who had 18 points, made a layup with just under 8 minutes to play to give Maryland a 54-52 lead. Carsen Edwards, the Big Ten’s leading scorer who scored 20 points, made a difficult 3-point shot and Purdue retook the lead, 55-54, with about 7 minutes left. From there, both teams combined to score 13 points.
Purdue also had a lengthy field goal drought to close the game, as the Boilermakers failed to make a shot in the final 5 minutes and 18 seconds of the game. Purdue’s lone three points in that time came from the free-throw line.
However, Maryland could not capitalize on Purdue’s offensive struggles and could not convert on an fortuitous extra opportunity in the final stages of the game. Down three points with 4 seconds, Cowan made the first free throw before intentionally missing the second attempt.
The loose rebound caromed off Purdue, which gave Maryland one final opportunity. Maryland’s last chance, though, was not run effectively as the team couldn’t find an open look.