By Jack Rothenberg
A solid eight minute start, quickly spiraled out of control for the Maryland Terrapins as they fell at home to the Iowa Hawkeyes 89-67. The Terps held a 10 point lead right out of the gate, but the Hawkeyes continuously switched between a matchup zone and man-to-man defense all night which stagnated the Terps’ offense holding Maryland scoreless for nearly nine first half minutes. Between Aaron Wiggins’ layup with 12:51 to play and the Terrapins’ next score – a three point jumper by Dont’a Scott with just over four minutes remaining – the visiting Hawkeyes ran off 20 consecutive points and Maryland’s 10 point lead became a 10 point deficit. Eventually Maryland began to get shots to fall, but it was too late and the Hawkeyes had a comfortable lead they never relinquished.
The Terps couldn’t have started off the game any better. By doubling and even at times tripling Iowa senior center Luka Garza, Maryland forced Hawkeye turnovers and poor shot attempts which helped them build an early seven point lead. Following an Iowa missed shot, sophomore forward Donta Scott pulled down one of his five first half rebounds and on the other end junior guard Eric Ayala benefitted from a junior guard Aaron Wiggins drive and kick by knocking down a three and pushing the Terrapins’ lead up to 19-9.
After the under 12 timeout, Maryland’s fantastic start proved to be all for naught. Reminiscent of their scoring drought against Indiana, the Terps missed 11 consecutive shots. Even after Scott’s basket, the Hawkeyes extended their run to 35-7 to end the half with Garza and fellow seven footer sophomore center Jack Nunge making big contributions. The two big men combined for 22 first half points, and provided Iowa a 44-26 lead going into the break.
In previous games, Maryland was able to confuse opponents with switching defenses but Iowa gave Maryland a taste of their own medicine sprinkling in a little zone defense that affected the Terps’ offensive flow. It forced Maryland to settle for way too many jump shots, resulting in the big win for the Hawkeyes. “They went zone and we just never really got it going and we let our offense affect our defense…we tried a lot of different things against that zone, some of it worked and some of it didn’t but we missed a lot of open shots,” head coach Mark Turgeon said.
Wiggins began the second half scoring Maryland’s first 10 points by hitting a couple of threes and a pair of 10 foot jump shots. Due to Wiggins’ scoring spurt, the Terps closed the gap to 46-34 under three minutes into the fresh half. However, as they did all night, Iowa answered right back extending the lead back up over 20 with a barrage of three pointers and easy lay-ups. Even with over 15 minutes left and no fans in attendance, all of the air was taken out of the building. Iowa’s double-digit lead was insurmountable, as they were able to score at will throughout the night. The Haweyes shot 54% from the field and made 13 three pointers, while shooting 50% from beyond the arc. In addition, Iowa outscored Maryland 44-16 in the paint.
Before tip-off, both teams took a knee in a show of unity after the disturbing events at the U.S. Capitol earlier in the week. According to Turgeon and Ayala, senior guard Daryll Morsell led the charge and communicated with Iowa players before the game which is when both parties agreed to kneel before gametime. “I was all for it. I thought it would be something special. Daryll [Morsell] had mentioned right before the game that he had been talking to the Iowa players…I was all for it [and] a lot of our teammates had the same reaction,” Ayala said.
Morsell returned after missing one game due to a fractured bone in his face that required surgery. The senior guard scored just three points in 22 minutes off of the bench. Maryland now sits at 6-6 with a top 15 Illinois team coming to Xfinity Center on Jan. 10. The Terps will look to stop a three game losing skid and avoid falling under .500 for the first time as a member of the Big Ten.
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