Maryland men head to Chicago for one last try at elusive second Big Ten road win

After spending time with Melo Trimble before and after Saturday night's 61-51 home win over Rutgers, the Maryland men’s basketball team hoped to take some the former star’s confidence — and his legendary clutch shooting — on its trip Sunday to Chicago.

The Terps will take on Northwestern on Monday night at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., in a matchup of two of the Big Ten’s most disappointing teams. Maryland is looking to finish its league road schedule as it began — with a win.

Since beating Illinois in overtime on Dec. 3, the Terps have lost seven straight road games, most recently a 70-66 defeat Tuesday night at Nebraska. It was one of four games Maryland lost in that stretch by four points or fewer on the road.

“People don’t realize how hard it is to win on the road, actually,” sophomore guard Anthony Cowan Jr. said after the Rutgers game. “It looked a little easier last year, but last year I don't think we were a really good home team.”

With Trimble a year ago, the Terps won their first five road games and finished 7-2 overall, compared with 5-4 at home. This year Maryland (18-11, 7-9) is 6-2 at home and 1-7 on the road.

Maryland used 10-0 runs at the start of each half against the Scarlet Knights to build a 13-point lead in the first half and a 24-point lead early in the second half, fueled by freshman center Bruno Fernando’s 18 points and career-high 16 rebounds.

“We’ve got to approach the game like we did this one,” said Cowan, who finished with 14 points and six assists against Rutgers (13-16, 3-13). “Just make sure we get [defensive] stops.”

Freshman guard Darryl Morsell (Mount Saint Joseph) showed his inexperience early in the Big Ten season in blowout losses at then-No. 1 Michigan State (five points, 1-for-5 shooting) and at Ohio State (four points, 0-for-7 shooting).

It’s been a lot different lately.

Morsell has scored in double figures in the past three road games: 13 points at No. 3 Purdue, 10 at Penn State and 11 at Nebraska. He has shot 16-for-29 in those games. He also got nine rebounds against the Boilermakers.

Asked whether the team is consumed with thoughts of its road disappointments this season, Morsell said: “I don’t think we think about the losing streak so much. We’re just trying to go out there and win.

“We know the whole crowd, the whole city is against us. It’s kind of good to go in there with the players, the coaches and a couple of fans and try to quiet the crowd and stuff and just trying to win.”

Fernando, who tied his career high with 21 points in the loss at Nebraska along with nine rebounds and a career-high five assists, was almost despondent as he stood outside the locker room at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

He was in a much happier mood Saturday night after a dominant performance that included a one-handed midair dunk on an inbounds pass from Morsell that was included on ESPN’s “Top 10 Plays” on Saturday and his first career 3-pointer

“I think we approach every game the same way,” Fernando said Saturday. “[We’re] kind of familiar with Northwestern. We played them at home and we know they’re going to try to beat us at their place.”

Monday’s game comes just nine days after the Terps dismantled the Wildcats at Xfinity Center in their second-biggest margin of victory in the Big Ten this season.

Northwestern came into that game having just upset then-No. 20 Michigan at home, the team’s fourth win in a five-game stretch. It was never much of a contest, as the Terps never trailed and tore apart the matchup zone by hitting seven of their first 10 3-point attempts.

This time the Wildcats have lost three straight and are coming off blowing a 27-point first-half lead and losing Saturday to No. 2 Michigan State, 65-60.Northwestern also lost at Rutgers in overtime after leading by nine at halftime. Senior guard Bryant McIntosh, who has battled injuries this season, sat out Saturday’s game with a shoulder injury. He was scoreless for the first time in his career in Northwestern’s loss to the Terps.

“Thankfully we just played ’em,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said Saturday. “They run a thousand [offensive] sets. They play the matchup zone. “It’ll be a quick turnaround, but it will be a lot less preparation. For us right now, it’s just mentally getting us right and physically getting us right.”

Said Morsell: “Right now I still know some of their sets, stuff like that. It's definitely helpful. We’ve got some confidence going into that game as well.”

But will it be the kind of confidence Melo had?

 

 

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