Maryland Wins First True Test Handily
Maryland defeated Butler tonight 79-65 in front of an electric crowd at Xfinity. It was their third straight win to open the season and their first against a power conference opponent.
Well that was fun!
— Maryland Basketball (@TerrapinHoops) November 16, 2017
Butler came into Xfinity Center expecting a tough basketball game, but what they ended up with a dark (k)night. As part of the yearly Gavitt Tipoff Games, Maryland always gets a tough game from a Big East school, so there was plenty of hype heading into Wednesday night’s clash which was already going to be on national television. But then the team dropped this tweet, and there was instant buzz on campus and in the fanbase:
He has been signaled…
On Wednesday, a hero will rise.
— Maryland Basketball (@TerrapinHoops) November 12, 2017
The game started slow for the Terps, falling behind 15-10 in the first 8 minutes. However, Mark Turgeon called a timeout and reportedly told his team “Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up” Also he subbed in super-freshman Bruno Fernando and the script was immediately flipped. Maryland went on a 22-5 run to take a 32-20 lead. From there, the lead moved from the low teens to the high single digits but neither team really went on a run.
The Bulldogs closed to within 5 after a stagnant offensive stretch from the Terps, who desperately needed someone to step up. That someone was Anthony Cowan, who with the shot clock near expiring, stepped back and drilled a long 3-pointer to bring the crowd back onto their feet. In his postgame press conference, Turgeon called Cowan’s shot “The play of the game” The deafening noise resulted in an immediate Butler turnover and highlight-reel worthy dunk from Darryl Morsell to push the lead to 10 and put the game away.
“It’s not who we are underneath, but what we do that defines us.” Coming into the game, Cowan had put up decent numbers this season but had yet to have a signature game. Tonight was his coming out party, posting a double-double with 25 points, 10 assists, and 6 rebounds. Most importantly, he showed his improvement in penetration, using his speed to get inside and finish when possible while having the wherewithal to pass to the open man rather than get blocked. I pointed out that he needed to do just that in the season preview.
Huerter made some impact plays including a couple momentum-swinging 3’s but fouled out with 2:22 left in the game. Justin Jackson defended well, with 10 of his 11 rebounds coming on that end of the floor. However, he had just 4 points on an anemic 4 shots. Turgeon took the blame for not getting Jackson more involved in the offense: “That’s on my coaching.” Bruno Fernando came off the bench again and showed he can be an emotional spark when the team needs him. “Someone like you. Someone who will rattle the cages” He pumped up the crowd on several occasions and always seemed to be in the middle of celebrations with his teammates. Aside from that his play was stellar. His biggest play of the night came when he successfully defended a 3-on-1 fast break which would have cut the Terps’ lead to 5. Dion Wiley got the start and showed his potential that Maryland missed due to his constant injuries the past few years. If he stays hot, he can be a real weapon for the Terps.
The game marked the first test for Maryland, as both they and Butler entered on the verge of being officially ranked.Butler will likely be in the tournament in march, so this was a resume-worthy win. Aside from the fact that the game will look good for the committee, but with the ease in which they won the Terrapins made a statement. They put the rest of the Big ten on notice that this young team won’t be overwhelmed by the moment. Let’s hope they can continue to back that up. Turgeon’s team hosts Bucknell this Saturday 11/18 at 8:30 on Big Ten Network.
“A hero can be anyone”