Maryland has found life on the road in the Big Ten to be a challenge. Unsurprisingly, home games have been comparatively smooth.
It seems unlikely that Northwestern would be the one to ruffle the 13th-ranked Terrapins’ unoriginal trend Sunday night in College Park, though the Wildcats have hung with each of their last four Big Ten opponents to the final seconds.
The Terrapins (17-3, 5-2 Big Ten) are 3-0 at home in the conference with wins over Minnesota, Rutgers and Michigan State coming by an average of 12.0 points. They’ve shot just 39.5 percent in those games, but that’s been balanced by making 40.0 percent from 3-point range while limiting opponents to 23.2.
Overall, the Terrapins are near the top of the league from long range at 37.6 with three straight games of hitting at least 10 for a 46.4-percent mark.
Thursday’s 89-70 loss at No. 23 Indiana was Maryland’s most lopsided in more than a year and dropped it to 2-2 in opposing Big Ten gyms. The defensive effort was especially poor, as the Terrapins allowed a season-high point total, field-goal percentage (60.0) and 3-point percentage (68.2).
"Tonight was just a bad night, that’s really all it is," said Jake Layman, who scored a team-high 13 points.
There might be some truth to calling it an anomaly. Indiana hit 15 3-pointers, something it had taken opponents the previous three games to match. The Terrapins held opponents to 24.8 percent through their first six Big Ten games.
"Our closeouts were bad, and our toughness trying to guard the ball wasn’t what it needed to be during that (decisive) stretch," coach Mark Turgeon said. "I hated the layups. I know they had three, four or five uncontested 3s that they made."
Freshman leading scorer Melo Trimble (15.8 points per game) was limited to 10 for the first time since scoring eight in his third collegiate game. The guard has averaged 17.3 points with a 44.4-percent mark from 3-point range in the last 10 home games.
Northwestern (10-9, 1-5) has dropped five straight after winning its Big Ten opener at Rutgers, but the last four have been one-possession games with less than 2.0 seconds remaining in regulation.
After Thursday’s 69-67 home loss to Ohio State, the Wildcats have dropped consecutive games by two points.
The Buckeyes were 9 of 19 from 3-point range, and Northwestern has one of the worst perimeter defenses in the Big Ten (36.8).
Alex Olah scored 16 for the Wildcats, top scorer Tre Demps (12.0) chipped in 14, and coach Chris Collins has little to complain about aside from the results.
"We’re playing great, man. We’re playing great," Collins told the team’s official website. "I feel for our guys. It’s a tough thing going to the well when you’re not getting the results you deserve … I feel for our guys. It’s just tough to go into that locker room knowing you fought so hard and you came up just a little bit short."
It’s been a while since they’ve experienced that white-knuckle regret against a ranked opponent. The Wildcats have lost their last five against the Top 25 by an average of 15.8 points.
The schools have split two previous meetings, both at Northwestern, with Maryland winning 77-57 in 2012-13. Dez Wells led all scorers with 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting, though he’s shot just 28.1 percent in the Terrapins’ last three games overall.
Northwestern’s win came in 1958-59.