By Jack Rothenberg
Another scorchingly hot start for the Maryland Terrapins slowly unraveled into a double-digit loss against the Michigan Wolverines 79-66 in the quarterfinal of the B1G Men’s Basketball Tournament. The Terps couldn’t keep pace after the game turned into a shootout towards the end of the first half. Two of the Terps’ main scorers, junior guard Aaron Wiggins and sophomore guard Hakim Hart combined to go 5-18 from the floor which didn’t help the cause. With an obvious size advantage, Michigan also controlled the offensive glass and was able to get ample second chance points.
After Michigan scored the opening basket, Maryland went on a 7-0 run and started 3-3 from the floor. The Terps’ start was representative of how they would play throughout the first 15 minutes before the Wolverines closed the half on a 16-2 run. Still, the hot start helped them stay close to the high flying Wolverines.
The Wolverines switched to a 2-3 zone in an effort to slow Maryland’s momentum but senior guard Darryl Morsell and sophomore forward Donta Scott carved up the zone utilizing the high post area. Morsell and Scott accounted for seven points each.
The Terps shot 63 percent from the field in the first half, and built a lead as big as 12 before Michigan made their late run.
Two key players, Morsell and Michigan center Hunter Dickinson, got into foul trouble early and had to sit for the later stages of the first half. Maryland’s loss of Morsell, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year allowed the contest to turn into a shootout – a style of play that clearly favored the tourney’s number one seed. Following Morsell’s second foul at the 7:50 mark, the Wolverines outscored the Terps by 10 the rest of the period and ended the half on an 8-0 run, taking a 40-38 lead into halftime.
Maryland began the second half by missing eight of their first 10 shots and six of those misses were threes. That stretch enabled the Wolverines to continue their scoring run from the first half and eventually extend it to a 19-4 run and a 51-42 advantage.
On two occasions after the Wolverines seemed to be pulling away the Terps crawled back into the game. Michigan pushed their lead to nine with 15:51 left, but Morsell went on a personal 5-0 run to cut the deficit to four. The Wolverines then hit threes on back-to-back possessions to extend the lead back to 10 at the under 12 timeout.
During the under 12 timeout both head coaches Mark Turgeon and Juwan Howard got into a heated scuffle which resulted in three technicals. One for Turgeon and two for Howard which led to his ejection. The altercation provided Maryland a brief spark, leading to a 5-0 run with a chance to cut into the lead further.
However, junior guard Aaron Wiggins missed a three pointer and Eli Brooks made one of his four threes on the day on the other end to push their lead back to 60-52. Over the ensuing five minutes the Wolverines’ lead floated around eight points, but with 3:36 left Mike Smith (18 points and 15 assists) knocked down a dagger three pointer which put the game to rest.
While Maryland has a NCAA tournament bid all but locked up, now the Terps will be anxiously waiting for selection Sunday to see where they will be placed. The madness begins on March 18 and 19, and the entire tournament will be played in Indiana.
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