By Todd Carton
The word of the day boys and girls is improbable.
Trailing by one with 3.3 seconds remaining in Maryland’s game against the Purdue Boilermakers, Eric Ayala stepped to the same free throw line where he had missed a free throw that would have tied the game just 45 seconds earlier. Ayala drew the foul after grabbing an offensive rebound off his own missed shot – only the third such rebound for the Terrapins all night. Given a reprieve, the senior guard calmly made both his shots and when the Terps forced a turnover by center Trevion Williams the Terps had secured an improbable 61-60 win over the 24th ranked Boilermakers in College Park Tuesday night.
Improbable because this was Maryland’s first home conference win in five tries with all five coming against an opponent ranked in the AP Top 25 at the time the game was played. The win improved the Terrapins’ record to 10-8 overall and 4-7 in conference.
Improbable because despite shooting an abysmal 1-12 from behind the three point line in the first half while also being out rebounded 17-9 they only trailed 27-24 at the break due primarily to forcing 10 Purdue turnovers and limiting the Boilermakers to just two second chance points on their six offensive rebounds.
Improbable because with Maryland trailing by five with 1:33 to play, Darryl Morsell a 27 percent three point shooter on the year drained a long distance shot that pulled Maryland within two at 60-58. It was Terps’ eighth make of the half from behind the arc. Morsell’s shot triggered a 6-0 Maryland run to close the game.
Improbable because not only did the Terrapins rebound competitively in the second half with the much bigger Boilermakers but because Maryland’s 6’6” junior guard Aaron Wiggins secured 11 rebounds the same number as Williams – Purdue’s 6’10” center. Wiggins also led the Terps in scoring with 18 points and was the catalyst in Maryland’s second half run.
Improbable because foul trouble and offensive struggles limited Galin Smith – Maryland’s only “big man” – to just 13 minutes leaving the combination of Morsell and Donta Scott to try to guard Williams. Although Williams led Purdue with 23 points and 11 rebounds, the pair did just enough to limit his low post touches to let the Terps remain close enough to make the late run.
The Terps are scheduled to travel to Penn State for a Friday night matchup with the 6-8 (3-7) Nittany Lions before returning home to face the seventh ranked Ohio State Buckeyes Monday night in their sixth consecutive home conference game against a ranked opponent.
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