While Maryland has consistently shown its ability to rebound from large deficits, Wednesday’s bout against Minnesota was a particularly miraculous experience. From deep, Darryl Morsell broke the hearts of all Gopher fans as time ran out — drilling a game winning triple.
“That was just the grace of god,” said Morsell “I just tried to make a play to win.”
With their backs against the wall and momentum against them, the Terps held strong and turned a 17-point deficit into an exciting win. Here are the three takeaways from the improbable comeback.
Turgeon continues to experiment with rotation, but the Terps must continue to give valuable minutes
Losing by 11 with Jalen Smith benched due to foul trouble, head coach Mark Turgeon would have to turn to the services of Chol Marial, Joshua Tomiac, and Ricky Lindo for a large portion of the half to provide valuable front court minutes. While Marial and Lindo had relatively quiet nights, Tomiac played solid defense in the absence of Smith, grabbed two boards. Hakim Hart also made use of his nine minutes and played well on the defensive end of the court, despite only scoring one point.
While defense has never been a true concern for this Maryland team, bench players finding their spots on an inconsistent offense is the one of the biggest issues for the Terps as the regular season ends. As the post season nears, a deeper bench will be crucial in ensuring Maryland plays its best 40 minutes against their competition in March.
After facing early foul trouble, Jalen Smith’s aggressiveness helped Maryland rally back for the lead.
After enduring one of his most disappointing games of the season, Smith looked to regain form against Minnesota. Ending the first half with three fouls and just two points, Smith’s struggles from Sunday’s bout persisted. “Stix” flipped his abysmal first half showing, scoring 14 points along with 12 rebounds while playing the entirety of the second half.
“I was trying to do what was best for my team and for the first five minutes it was rebounding and getting blocks,” said Smith. “After a while they just started feeding me and I just started scoring.”
The sophomore center led both teams in points in an offensively aggressive second half. Just two fouls away from disqualification, Smith didn’t shy away from competition. “Stix” played smart defense, adding two blocks and a steal to his stat line — flipping the switch on the offensive end and having his way in the paint. Getting more touches, Smith showed his abilities as a low post tactician and fought for most of his points around the basket. On the perimeter, the center also hit a pull up three that cut the Gopher lead to single digits.
“Stix” gave his best 20 minutes of the season when the team desperately needed offense. His versatility added a brand new dimension of offense that was missing for Maryland in the first half. With the team on his back, “Stix” makes winning look much easier.
“The past 10-11 games [Smith] has turned into a monster,” said Aaron Wiggins “He’s really good for us when he’s really going.”
Anthony Cowan, has been struggling on the road since his performance at East Lansing.
For the last two games, Anthony Cowan hasn’t been his usual self. In that time frame, Cowan has amassed just 20 points on a 15% clip from the field, while shooting 0-9 from three. While teams have hounded the senior point guard at all times, Cowan has struggled to make open threes and finish around the rim. The stoic senior has also earned his second technical in two games. Given the nature of his play around this time of year in the past, Cowan is expected to bounce back when the Terps are in need of his services.