UMD Performs Wizardry to Overcome a 17-point deficit
Zachary Wilson and Wayne Viener
Following a rather ugly loss on Ohio State’s home court in Columbus, the Terps continued their road trip with a journey to The Barn to face off against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
For a .500 team with a 7-9 record in the Big Ten, Minnesota played to the exact opposite of expectations. Fighting for a potential bid in the NCAA tournament, the Golden Gophers cut no slack with their offense, especially from deep, in the first half. The Golden Gophers would start 6/6 from beyond the arc, finishing the half with a 57% total shooting and maintaining a lead of 17 at one point.
Maryland, on the other hand, was the polar opposite of Minnesota. The Terps had trouble scoring and keeping key players on the floor. UMD started the game in foul trouble and it snow balled from there.
With Jalen Smith (3 fouls), Anthony Cowan (2 fouls, 1 technical), Joshua Tomaic (3 fouls) and a bench technical, all in the first half, Maryland foundered. It was tough for Maryland to maintain contact with the Gophers, who built a lead to 17 points.
Minnesota Forward Daniel Oturu was fantastic, he took full advantage of his situation with Smith, Lindo, Marial and Tomaic all taking turns on the cover.
In the first half, UMD shot 2-14 from three and shot 10-32 overall. In fact, the only area where MD found consistent points was from the charity stripe, where they went 9-10. With the explosive offense of Minnesota compounded with Maryland’s offensive ineptitude and fouls, the Golden Gophers saw themselves up by an astounding 16 heading into the locker room.
The second half saw Minnesota return to earth on their scoring, with their total shooting dropping a whopping 22.6% from the first (the Gophers three-point shooting would go from an incredulous 53.85% down to 27.27%).
Turgeon mixed in a bit of zone defense and a trapping press, forcing Minnesota into tough shots late in the clock. To slow Oturu, the Terps used Smtih, Scott and late in the game Darryl Morsell to slow the All-American candidate.
Meanwhile, Jalen Smith, who had mostly zeros on the stat line at the break, came on like a force of nature to gain his 18th double-double all in the 2nd half. The BTN announcing crew called Stix “the best stretch 4 in the nation”.
The Terps engineered two separate scoring runs of more than 6 unanswered points and found themselves within 2 points with 14.5 seconds left on the clock.
In a final possession where Minnesota really put on the pressure, trying to save the victory. Maryland moved the ball around, with Cowan passing up the last shot, Darryl Morsell heaved a dream from way beyond the top of the arc to score the go-ahead basket with 1 second remaining on the clock. The Golden Gophers would have no such miraculous answer and they now potentially lose their bid to the NCAA tournament.
As everyone’s blood pressure levels return to normal, Maryland has no time to relax as they return home on Saturday to face off against Michigan State in primetime for the conclusion to their regular season series.
Notable Statlines, The Good and The Not So Good:
The Overall Determination of the Team-Not to be phased by some suspect officiating in the first half, UMD really showed poise and character here. Coming out of the locker room they knew that Minnesota’s torrential downpour of threes was going to slow back down to earth and they used that to keep themselves on track. While they are no stranger to overcoming large deficits, this particular comeback being the third time they’ve surged back by 10 or more this season, such outcomes are always surprising and will help this team when they need to dig deep in the postseason tournaments.
Darryl Morsell- When you make the shot that essentially puts the Big Ten title in the bag you deserve recognition. Even though Minnesota still made an astronomical amount of shots early, when the game slowed back down Morsell was the headliner of that defense and made strides when it mattered.
Aaron Wiggins- Continuing his hot streak from their previous match, Wiggins returned to his role and scored consistently. 16 points on 6-8 shooting and 3 steals, one of which occured in the final minute and put UMD within 2 to set up for that Morsell game-winner. Wiggins has developed into just what this team needs coming off the bench: offense.
Jalen Smith-Smith returned to normal and scored his typical double double, this time with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Even more impressive, he did this whilst being benched for the vast majority of the first half (literally after 4 minutes of play) and having the majority of his 24 minutes come in the latter half of play.
The Not So Good:
Officiating-While things did clam down in the second half, the amount of fouls called in the first against UMD were excessive. Not to sound bitter, but Smith was tagged on phantom fouls and once again Cowan got T’d up as he was bounced to the floor on a drive to the hoop. Calling and not calling fouls had an adverse impact on the outcome of the game. Just a little surprising following last game’s fiasco with officiating as well.
Maryland’s First Half Offense-Even with the foul troubles the Terps faced early on, there is no excuse for how terribly they shot in comparison to Minnesota in the first half. In an “answer” to Minnesota’s fiery perimeter shooting, UMD mustered a measly 2-14 from deep and finished the half barely above 30% total shooting. When your best attribute of offense to start is free throw shooting, there is an obvious problem. Shooting just a smidge above mediocre would’ve kept the deficit well below the 17-point lead it became.
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