Maryland Terrapins former head men's basketball coach Lefty Dreisell stands with his family, watching a banner unfurl, honoring him before the game between the Terrapins and Ohio State. (Video by Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun Staff)
COLLEGE PARK — One by one, the Maryland starters went over to the school's special guest sitting courtside. One by one, the Terps paid homage to Lefty Driesell, who had come Saturday to see a banner hung in his honor at a sold-out Xfinity Center.
Then Maryland did something Driesell's team accomplished 348 times during his 17-year career with the Terps, something Mark Turgeon's 21st-ranked team didn't do in its previous two games. Avoiding the first three-game losing streak since Turgeon's first season, Maryland won, beating undermanned Ohio State, 86-77.
The Terps were led by freshman guard Anthony Cowan, who scored 16 of his team-high 19 points in the second half, and freshman wing Kevin Huerter, who added 18. Both players hit huge end-of-shot clock 3-pointers late in the game after the Buckeyes cut what had been a 14-point deficit to five.
Cowan, who came into the game having missed his last 11 3-pointers, made three of the four he tried, as well as all 10 of his free throws. Huerter was seven of 12 from the field, and junior guard Jaylen Brantley, who added 11 points off the bench, also made three of four of his 3-pointers.
"That's why you recruit so darn hard," Turgeon said of his freshmen. "You recruit good players. Those shots — our offense wasn't great, their defense was good. To be honest with you, I thought they were both going in when they shot it. I felt those guys do that…It was good to breathe a little in the last minute of the game."
The victory helped Maryland (21-4, 9-3) regain a share of second place in the Big Ten and some much-needed momentum into a two-game road swing at Northwestern on Wednesday and Wisconsin on Feb. 19. Senior forward Marc Loving led Ohio State (15-11, 5-8) with 24 points.
The Terps looked like a completely different team from the outset than they did in Tuesday's defeat at Penn State, which followed a tough one-point loss at home last Saturday against then-No. 23 Purdue. Maryland jumped out to a 9-0 lead, was up 14 at half and never let the Buckeyes get close to taking the lead.
"Energy and preparation, we acted and looked like a team throughout the whole game, which was huge for us," Turgeon said. "I could tell that our guys were dialed in and ready to play well and we did. We really played well at times. We just couldn't get rid of them. They just kept making jump shots."
The Buckeyes hung in despite playing without sophomore guard JaQuan Lyle, who left the team Thursday because of a family emergency in Indiana. Ohio State also lost both of its centers, Trevor Thompson and Micah Potter, on fouls in the second half.
The 3-pointer by Huerter, from around 25 feet, gave the Terps an 80-72 lead with a little over two minutes left. But junior guard Kam Williams (Mount Saint Joseph) followed with a 3-pointer and the Buckeyes had a chance to close the gap more when Trimble got blocked on a drive.
Loving, who had made his previous four shots, including back-to-back 3-pointers, missed a 3-pointer and Cowan made his 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to push the lead back to nine. The Terps shot 12 of 29 on 3-pointers and 27 of 55 overall.
"I saw that there just wasn't anything there. In that kind of environment, I didn't want to get a shot-clock violation, I just wanted to make sure we got a shot up," Cowan said of his 3-pointer with 41 seconds to go. "I saw the defender bounce back a little, thinking I was going to drive and I just pulled up."
Huerter said of the distance on his 3-pointer, "It was a really cool moment. [Jae'Sean] Tate was kind of smiling too after I hit it."
In congratulating Huerter on the postgame handshake line, Ohio State coach Thad Matta smiled as he passed Huerter and joked about from how far he launched it.
"Like I told No. 4 [Huerter], your last 3 there was an over-and-back, he was so far out when he hit it," Matta said after his team lost to Maryland for the second time in 12 days. "Those guys stepped up. We wanted to make Cowan make shots and sure enough he did."
The offense from Cowan and Huerter helped offset another tough offensive performance by junior guard Melo Trimble, who finished with 10 points on three of 11 shooting, including one of six on 3-pointers.
The big shots by Huerter and Cowan to preserve what had been a double-digit lead was in stark contrast to what happened in Maryland's two home losses in the Big Ten this season, on New Year's Day to Nebraska and last Saturday to Purdue.
It could give a lift to the young Terps as they head down the stretch, and it could help Trimble.
"I think it's really important," Huerter said. "Especially if teams are not keying on him as much, if guys are making shots it takes a lot of pressure off him. He doesn't have to score as much, and when he drives I don't think there's going to be as many guys in the paint trying to steal or block his shot and that he trusts other guys are going to be able to make shots."