The eight days of darkness ended for the No. 6 Maryland men's basketball team Sunday at Xfinity Center.
The eight days of darkness ended for the No. 6 Maryland men's basketball team Sunday at Xfinity Center. The Terps still can't quite see the light at the end of this Big Ten Conference tunnel, but at least there seems to be a flicker.
Despite blowing a 16-point first-half lead, and an inability to stop Michigan forward Mark Donnal in the second half, Maryland took advantage of foul trouble on Donnal to beat the Wolverines, 86-82.
After back-to-back losses at last-place Minnesota on Thursday and Wisconsin on Feb. 13, a victory stopped the first two-game losing streak for the Terps in nearly two years.
"It's great to win, it's great to play well. To lose two in a row, it felt like two months," a much-relieved coach Mark Turgeon said after the game. "We beat a really good team that played really, really well in Michigan."
Junior forward Robert Carter Jr. led Maryland (23-5, 11-4) with 17 points, and senior forward Jake Layman added 16 points. Sophomore guard Melo Trimble finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, but shot 3-for-10 from the field and had seven turnovers to only one assist.
Donnal led Michigan (19-9, 9-6) with a career-high 25 points, 22 in the second half.
After getting just two points from their bench in Thursday’s loss to the Golden Gophers, the Terps got their biggest offensive contribution in more than a month — 18 points — from the three reserves Turgeon used, including seven points, six rebounds and two blocks from junior center Damonte Dodd.
"Tonight, the whole team helped us. It was a great team effort," Turgeon said. "In the first half, when we had it rolling, it was the first time maybe in four or five weeks we looked like the team that we were. It was good to see. … It was more between our ears and what was in our hearts today."
Asked how the Terps recovered from the defeat to Minnesota, which had yet to win a Big Ten game, Layman said: "Coach was great. He didn't kill us or anything like that. He wanted us to get back to just having fun and kind of being ourselves out there. Tonight, at times, we definitely showed that."
For the last five minutes of the first half and the first five minutes of the second, the Terps looked like the team that had struggled recently. Maryland was turning the ball over (18 total) and giving up too many open 3-pointers (13-for-27 overall).
"We weren't great defensively. They're hard to guard," Turgeon said.
But after watching the Wolverines score on their first nine possessions of the second half, with Donnal adding 14 points in a 20-12 run to turn a seven-point deficit early in the second half into a 56-55 lead, Michigan's 6-foot-9, 240-pound junior picked up his third personal foul with 12:30 to go.
When Donnal went to the bench, the complexion of the game seemed to change as the Terps had one fewer player — and offensive set — to worry about. Turgeon acknowledged that his team had not worked much at practice Saturday on coming out to guard Donnal from beyond the arc (3-for-4 shooting).
"The kid was terrific tonight," Turgeon said. "We got home very late from Minnesota, and [practice] was more about our minds than anything else. The one thing we didn't [practice] was the bump-back 5-man shooting a 3. Our guys never adjusted. That was a big foul."
Michigan coach John Beilein downplayed the significance of Donnal's foul on the game's outcome.
"He's probably going to need a rest anyhow," Beilein said. "He's not going to [keep making] shots. I don't think it was a factor in the game, but it was a factor in our season, to know he's capable of doing this again."
A pair of 3-pointers by Layman (5-for-6 overall) helped the Terps go on a 15-8 run for a 72-64 lead and forced Beilein to call timeout. Donnal scored three straight times as the Wolverines went on a 13-0 run to take a 73-72 lead.
One play during the run — a three-point play by sophomore guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman after Layman inexplicably gave up the ball after retrieving a rebound — made the announced sellout crowd a bit restless.
"It was a game of runs," Layman said. "Donnal led them on their run and we went on one of our own and got the lead back, and we kept it for most of the second half."
The final run belonged to the Terps.
Trailing 75-72 after a layup by Donnal with 5:47 to go, Maryland got a pair of free throws by Trimble to start a 14-7 run to close the game. After a pair of free throws by Layman put the Terps ahead 80-75 with a little over three minutes left, junior forward Zak Irvin hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit back to two.
The Terps secured their much-needed victory after a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Duncan Robinson, with Layman flying in his face, cut Maryland's lead to two with seven seconds left. Trimble made a pair of free throws, and sophomore point guard Jaylen Brantley stole the inbounds pass.
"It's funny, my message to them yesterday was that our path to success the rest of the season is through our defense, because that's been our most constant thing," Turgeon said. "And today, it wasn't. It was through our offense. We figured it out in the end, which is important."