The Block that Saved the Day

Maryland hangs on against Nebraska 72-70

A Shockingly Close Finish for the Terps

Zachary Wilson with Wayne Viener

Following a strong performance against Illinois to up their win streak to 6, Maryland hosted the Nebraska Cornhuskers in a game that ended up being a little too close for comfort.

Three Terps finished the game with a double-double.  Anthony Cowan in points and assists (10/13).  Jalen Smith in points and rebounds (16/13) along with Donta Scott (10/10). 

Both teams struggled from the field to start, as Nebraska went 1-9 to Maryland’s 1-6. Similar to Maryland’s previous home game against Rutgers, this would be a game characterized by stretches of terrible offense from both teams, and Nebraska would go on two separate scoring droughts of more than 3 minutes in the first half.

UMD held a very noticeable size advantage here, yet they sparingly pressed that mismatch, instead opting for more mid-range play and ineffective 3 point shooting. Following a strong 8-0 run from MD and effective 1-3-1 zone defense, the Terps would enter the locker room up by 13 points, a deficit that might have led to a very relaxing victory.  It was not to be.

The second half saw both sides swinging back and forth to start; however, Nebraska began to get very comfortable shooting the ball and took a 13 point deficit all the way down to within 2 points at the halfway point in the second half.

Having barely hung on to their lead for the remainder of the second half, two critical free throw misses on two separate 1-and-1’s gave Nebraska possession of the ball with 0:09 left only down 1 at 71-70. In a strong drive to the basket, Cornhusker guard Cam Mack blew past Anthony Cowan to put up a floater that was sure to end the hopes and dreams of many a Maryland fan. Unfortunately for Nebraska, Jalen Smith made his only block of the game that led to Maryland narrowly winning the game.

Barely escaping with a victory, the Terps lock their sights onto their next match, a battle against the surprisingly unranked Michigan State Spartans, who are scraped by Illinois Tuesday night to break their own 3 game losing streak. The Spartans boast an impressive 10-2 record at home, and Maryland will need to bring everything they’ve got in order to keep the Terps 7 game win streak alive.

Notable Statlines, The Good and The Not So Good:

The Good:

Jalen Smith-With 16 points and 13 rebounds, Smith has landed his 7th consecutive double-double for UMD. Smith’s game sealing block would prevent a nearly catastrophic comeback from Nebraska, and his size advantage over the Cornhuskers would allow time and time again for Maryland to secure easy buckets.

Eric Ayala-In a comeback performance to remember, Ayala would shoot 50% from the field (6-12) and net a season high 16 points. For a Terrapin whose had some problems shooting as of late, it is reassuring that Ayala can still play a strong offensive role for UMD.

Donta Scott-Yet another Terp with a double-double, Scott would finish with exactly 10 points and 10 rebounds on an efficient 3-5 shooting. He has quietly played his role all year, with his main focus on defense with a sprinkle of surprise long range shots,  so it was a nice change of pace to see him so active tonight.

The Not So Good:

Aaron Wiggins-Wiggins’ inconsistencies have plagued him during this entire season from an offensive standpoint, unable to live up to the pure shooter he was expected to be. Tonight was no different, shooting a measly 25% overall and 0-4 from deep with 2 turnovers. Hopefully he can begin to reign in some control over his game and make shots on a more consistent basis later on.

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