By: Eddie Hobbs
It seemed like it was over before it even started for Maryland, as it was announced that Michal Cekovsky would not travel with the team due to an ankle injury he sustained in practice on Wednesday.
The injury left Maryland with just eight scholarship players in the 75-67 loss to No. 3 Purdue. The Terps were already without their starting small forward Justin Jackson, and role player Ivan Bender, and the injury to Cekovsky made it even more difficult for a struggling Maryland team.
Injuries have defined Maryland’s season, and in a game that the Terps needed to desperately to boost their resume for the NCAA Tournament, it hurt to not have another big man to battle down low with Purdue’s star center Isaac Haas.
Purdue started the game on a 9-0 run, while Maryland failed to do anything right. Six minutes into the game, the Terps started 1-of-8 from the field while just stepping on their own feet.
Sean Obi and Joshua Tomaic had more of an opportunity to show what they could do on the court with Cekovsky being out of the lineup. Neither of Obi or Tomaic attempted a shot from the floor, and Obi fouled out in just seven minutes of play.
To pile onto the misfortune for Maryland, Kevin Huerter and Bruno Fernando were in foul trouble all evening and both were forced to play limited minutes in the first half.
It was a miracle that Maryland found themselves down just 11 at halftime considering the 11 turnovers and 32 percent shooting.
Maryland’s effort was there all evening even though they struggled throughout the opening 20 minutes. When the second half started, the Terps were on the move.
Fernando scored the first five points of the second half and it looked like the Terps would be able to go on a run. Then the fouls started to pile up, both Fernando and Huerter picked up their third fouls just three minutes into the second half.
All of the foul trouble forced Turgeon to put Tomaic at the center spot, occasionally guarding Haas and Matt Haarms.
Maryland and Purdue would exchange field goals throughout the second half, and the Terps would get as close as three points with 9:02 remaining thanks to a 9-2 run all by Huerter three-point shots.
Maryland struggled to stop Purdue down the stretch and the Boilermakers would go on a 7-0 run immediately after the Huerter three-point barrage to essentially keep a cushion the rest of the way.
The Terrapins will most likely want to forget about the month of January as they’ve held a 3-6 record going into the new year. This was the one game that Maryland had left that could have added a quality win to their resume and they failed to do so.
Maryland has a chance to flip the script in the final seven games of the season, and they will start off against Wisconsin at home on Super Bowl Sunday at 1 p.m.