Like the old Brooklyn Dodgers, whose mantra was born out of their decades-long futility against the powerhouse New York Yankees, the Maryland men’s basketball team and coach Mark Turgeon no longer will have to wait until next year to try to topple a ranked opponent on the road.
The frustration of the No. 24 Terps and Turgeon in failing to accomplish this seemingly routine yet inexplicably monstrous feat — Maryland’s went more than 11 years between road wins over a ranked team and Turgeon went more than 12 — ended Tuesday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena with a 66-65 win over No. 21 Iowa.
After seeing his team’s 12-point lead with a little under 14 minutes left in the game erased, sophomore center Bruno Fernando’s tip-in with 7.6 seconds remaining, coming off a missed runner in the lane by junior guard Anthony Cowan Jr., gave Maryland (20-7, 11-5 Big Ten) the one-point lead.
Following a timeout, Iowa (20-6, 9-6) got two shots, a forced 3-pointer by junior guard Jordan Bohannon with Cowan tightly guarding him, and a follow by redshirt junior forward Isaiah Moss. But the follow ricocheted off the back rim, going harmlessly in the air as the Maryland bench erupted in celebration and Turgeon stopped momentarily to take it all in.
The victory ended 11 years of frustration for Maryland, which had lost 27 straight road games against ranked teams, and for Turgeon, whose teams in College Park had lost 19 in a row over his eight seasons. Maryland’s previous victory over a ranked foe on the road came Jan. 19, 2008, when it upset top-ranked and heavily-favored North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Turgeon’s teams in four seasons at Texas A&M didn’t beat a ranked opponent on the road in nine tries despite the Aggies reaching the NCAA tournament each year. His last victory as a coach over a ranked team on the road came early in the final season of a seven-year stint at Wichita State in 2006-07, when the Shockers upset No. 15 Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, a year after the team reached the Sweet 16.
Cowan, who had averaged just a shade over 10 points in his previous seven games, broke out of his offensive slump by scoring a game-high 17 points, to go with eight assists. Just as significantly, Cowan played tremendous defense on Bohannon, who finished with 14 points on 2-for-11 shooting. Fernando added 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Terps.
The defeat stopped Iowa’s streak of two straight buzzer-beating wins, one against Northwestern on a 3-pointer by Bohannon and then Saturday’s win at Rutgers when freshman wing Joe Wesikamp banked a corner 3 off a long inbounds pass that was tipped high off the top of the backboard.
Not only did Maryland end its long losing streak on the road with the dramatic win, but the Terps also set themselves up for a potential strong finish. Maryland will play three of its four remaining regular-season games at home, beginning Saturday against Ohio State. The Terps’ lone road game left before next month’s Big Ten tournament is Feb. 27 at Penn State.