After dropping a wide-open three Anthony Cowan Jr. was finally able to steal the lead from George Mason and tie the game at 29. Just about a minute later, Cowan Jr. to take matters into his own hands once again — this time with a tough and-one layup. Cowan Jr.’s one-man six-point effort re-energized the crowd and gave the team a lead that it would never lose.
In another breakaway victory, the Terps were able to win again at home 86-63 against George Mason.
“I just took what the defense gave me, I kind of got hot a little bit, just wanted to be more aggressive,” Cowan Jr. said describing his six-point run.
Despite Maryland’s impressive defense in their previous matchups, George Mason’s offense looked fairly comfortable in enemy territory during the opening minutes, whereas the Terps seemed out of place.
Meanwhile, on the offensive end for the Terps things struggled to get going. After a back-and-forth affair in the opening eight minutes the Patriots heated up on offense, leading 20-13 — their largest of the half.
In just four minutes the Terps went on a 16-9 run finalized by Cowan Jr.’s game-tying three that allowed them to set the tone for the rest of the half. Throughout this period, Maryland’s offense showed exactly what they could do in the half-court setting.
But what was most important was the Terps’ ability to neutralize much of the Patriots electric guard talent in their run to close out the half. The constant rotation of man, press, and zone defense proved to be just enough to silence the Patriots offense.
“Our defense was terrific, changing the defense has helped us throughout the game,” said Coach Turgeon.
On the other hand, the Terps offense had a tone shift of its own, scoring at a higher rate due to their efforts stretching out the floor to create more open shots. The last 5:45 of the first half only saw George Mason squeak out two points while Maryland exploded for 19, allowing them to take a 12-point lead going into the break.
“We spaced them a little bit changed our offense a little bit, guys made better decisions,” said Turgeon when asked about the offenses tone switch.
Cowan Jr. spent much of the first half in foul trouble but Maryland’s often absent half-court offense required his presence — in short, Cowan Jr. delivered. With the depth and talent on the roster for Maryland this season, the senior guard has been able to take more of a back seat role in the team’s first four games. This match saw him taking advantage of every possession aggressively. Cowan Jr. earned his points at the free throw line and led the team in scoring with 16.
At the wing, Aaron Wiggins drained a trio of three-pointers on his way to scoring 15 points, shooting an impressive 50 percent from the field.
“[We need to] continue to work on our half-court sets and execute in the half-court offense and then defensively we gotta be more locked in,” Wiggins said.
The second half was nothing short of a snooze fest. Both teams shot terribly and fouled at a high rate. For Maryland, almost half of their points came from the free throw line as they shot under 30 percent from the field for the entirety of the second half. George Mason brought their fair share of bricks, converting 16 percent of their shots for the majority of the final half. The poor offensive outing for Maryland leaves questions for the top 10 team as opponents get more talented.
On Thanksgiving, the Terps will travel down south to an Orlando invitational tournament where they will get a chance to improve in a brand new environment.