The Maryland Terrapins started their home game against No. 22 Indiana without energy and without balance. Conversions, poor selection of bulkheads and defensive abuses led to a two-digit gap of barely four minutes in the Big Ten competition.
"We would not have won that game before Christmas," said coach Mark Turgeon. "We would not have understood."
But on Friday, after Maryland had taken the chase with eight, Terps left Bruno Fernando and Anthony Cowan Jr. loose to win for a 78-75 victory, the fifth time this season they have converted a halftime in a victory. Maryland (14-3, 5-1 Big Ten) won the fifth street, four of which came in the conference. Indiana fell back to 12-4, 3-2.
"We are definitely figuring out ways to win, which is always a good thing," Cowan said.
Fernando, the striking second-year student, scored a career-high 25 points with 13 rebounds, three assists and one block. Cowan added 24 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Together they can overcome a slow start, even against a ranked opponent with their own stars.
Fernando, who did 11 of his 12 attempts from the field, started his teammates and the Xfinity Center crowd in the second half, hit a three-point and a row of layup on consecutive possessions, then patted his chest and yelled at the ceiling.
"We are just growing, growing, growing," said Fernando. "We are taking big steps in the right direction."
Indiana opened the second half with a quick lay-up, frustrating Turgeon because he said his players "walked through that game." But starting with the following property made Maryland shot while Indiana was missing. The foul clicked and the Terps made the game a 16-0 run and took the lead, which they kept the last buzzer.
Freshman-Romeo Langford led the Hoosiers with 28 points, including 12 in the last four minutes. Langford hit three three-pointers and was perfect for his nine free throws. Langford and the Hoosiers narrowed the lead from Maryland to four points with 26 seconds left, but the Terps sealed the win on the free throw line. Indiana & # 39; s Devonte Green made a three point on the clock with one second to reduce the lead of Terps to the smallest ever since the start of the second half.
Maryland's first half of the deficit ran up to 13 to eight minutes of playing time, fed by four turnovers and missing out on 11 of 13 shots. The terrapin turtles shot out only 10 out of 31 in the first half and had eight sales. Despite 10 offensive rebounds, the Terps did not have any second chance points.
Maryland watched the Hoosiers to start the second half, and by the time Fernando threw a duel with 16:09, the game remained the same. Cowan and Darryl Morsell then hit back-to-back three-pointers, causing a deafening roar of the Xfinity Center crowd.
"We need to do better by getting stronger and getting ourselves up early instead of being our comeback team," said freshman Eric Ayala, who scored 14 points, including two three-pointers. "It's fun though, get a little fight and bring it together to a team."
The Hoosiers guarded Maryland as well as every team this season, said Turgeon, but in the second half they could not contain Fernando and Cowan. Cowan played well, but now, Turgeon said, the junior starts to make shots and "takes it to another level".
"I still think that the key to their team is going through Anthony Cowan," said Indiana Coach Archie Miller. "If he plays like that, they are difficult to deal with."
Miller said his team would benefit from letting Langford play on Cowan, adding how the Hoosiers in the match-up last year could contain Cowan better because they had a stronger, more physical player who guarded him. Cowan did not make a shot from the field in the last 10 minutes, but he made his six free throws in the last minute.
The game included two of the highly regarded first-year students, Langford and Jalen Smith from Maryland. Langford – the nation's number recruit last year, according to 247 Sports – impressed the Terps as Smith struggled, missed all nine of his field goal attempts and ended with only two points.
But even without Smith's usual double-digit score effort, Fernando and Cowan rallied for the Terps-head on the way to their Monday-evening game against Wisconsin, another strong Big Ten-enemy.
"There's just something in it," Turgeon said about how his players react to shortages. "It took us a while to become comfortable in the regular season, but I think you can see that we feel more comfortable and win big games."
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