Iowa City, Iowa — The second half of the Maryland men’s basketball game Tuesday at No. 21 Iowa seemed fitting for a program looking to end its 11-year, 27-game losing streak to ranked teams on the road.
As hard as it might seem for a team to lose all those games considering some of the Maryland players who’ve been a part of that streak, winning proved to be even tougher against the Hawkeyes at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
It took a rebound follow by sophomore center Bruno Fernando with seven seconds left, coming off a missed runner in the lane by junior center Anthony Cowan Jr., for the Terps to get the lead.
Actually, it was Maryland getting the lead back after coach Mark Turgeon’s team had blown a 12-point lead with a little under 14 minutes left and an 11-point lead with six minutes remaining.
It took two missed shots by the Hawkeyes in the frantic final seconds — the first a forced 3-pointer by junior guard Jordan Bohannon and a 12-footer by redshirt junior forward Isaiah Moss — for the Terps to hold on.
Here are three takeaways from No. 24 Maryland’s 66-65 win:
1. Anthony Cowan Jr. needs to play like he did — or even better — for the Terps to finish the season strong.
Cowan, who had come into the game in the midst of one of the worst offensive slumps of his three-year college career, said afterward that he could have better.
It’s hard to see how, considering Cowan finished with 17 points, eight assists and only one turnover in playing all 40 minutes as well as helping contain Bohannon for most of the game.
Cowan’s comment might be viewed as a bit of hubris on his part, but aside from the fact that he made five of his 10 3-point shots, he needs to be more efficient finishing at the rim or in the lane.
Although he made some terrific passes to find his team’s other 3-point shooters, namely freshmen Eric Ayala (3-for-6 on 3-pointers) and Aaron Wiggins (3-for-7 on 3s), he still has trouble locating his big men in traffic.
One thing Cowan will have trouble doing is improving on the defense he has played lately, forcing Bohannon into a 2-for-11 shooting night that ended with the line drive 3-pointer he took toward the end, claiming he was fouled.
2. Maryland’s woes on the defensive boards continue.
For the third straight game against a ranked opponent — two of them victories — the Big Ten’s best rebounding team had problems preventing the Hawkeyes from getting second-chance opportunities.
Just as Purdue did last week in College Park, Iowa dominated on its offensive boards. Fortunately for the Terps, the Hawkeyes also struggled to capitalize, especially in the first half, when Turgeon said his team could have been down 10 rather than up four.
Part of that was both Fernando and freshman forward Jalen Smith (Mount Saint Joseph) spending large chunks of the half on the bench after each picked up their second personal foul, as well as Turgeon going to a smaller lineup to help space the floor to get the ball into the hands of his shooters.
But some of it is Maryland communicating better on the court.
Though it’s virtually impossible to hear what is being said unless you’re on the court or at least on the bench, there were several times when two Terps converged for a rebound, only to either bump each other off the ball or simply lose it to a Hawkeyes player.
As well as Maryland played defensively — a sure sign that there is some communication going on — the Terps might have built an even bigger lead in the first half if they didn’t see defensive rebounds turn into easy follows for Iowa.
3. No matter what Turgeon said about the streak, he isn’t living in a bubble.
It wasn’t surprising to hear Turgeon say after the game that he hadn’t been aware of his 0-19 road record against ranked teams at Maryland until he started getting texts before the game about breaking the streak.
Turgeon often tells reporters that he doesn’t read what they write, which is mostly true. But even if he doesn’t pay attention to social media, his players do.
Not only did his players — and likely Turgeon — hear about the losing streak to ranked teams on the road, they also have to be aware of the criticism of not starting or finishing games well.
While Maryland didn't start well on the offensive end Tuesday, and then saw its big lead completely evaporate late in the game, being able to lose the lead and win the game could go a long way.
Turgeon will likely try to build on that theme going forward.
With three of the last four games against teams currently with losing records in the Big Ten, this win and last week’s win over Purdue should help the Terps take momentum into next month’s conference tournament in Chicago.