Badgers’ 21-point comeback falls short in 64-60 loss to Maryland
After that, not so much.
Anthony Cowan Jr. hit a pivotal 3-pointer with 44 seconds left, and the No. 19 Terrapins pulled out a 64-60 victory Monday night after blowing a 21-point lead in the second half.
Maryland (15-3, 6-1 Big Ten) led by 10 after eight minutes and 38-17 with 17:47 remaining before the Badgers (11-6, 3-3) roared back to take a 60-59 lead with 2:01 to go.
Cowan turned it around with his long-range jumper, and the Terps held on after Wisconsin’s Nate Reuvers missed two 3-pointers in the final 33 seconds.
“In the end, they took a one-point lead and we came back and won the game, which is great for our young team,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “It’s a great win for us.”
In truth, Maryland’s sixth straight victory was alternatingly pretty and ugly.
“Just to get another one is terrific for us,” Turgeon said. “I told our team after the game, just because there’s a number in front of our name now, doesn’t mean that we’ve just conquered everything.”
Maryland made only five baskets in the second half, only two over the final 17 minutes. The Terps won the game at the free throw line, going 24 for 29 compared 3 for 6 for the Badgers.
Although the Badgers showed their mettle with a furious comeback on the road, no one was smiling in the visiting locker room.
“There’s not a moral victory attitude. It’s quiet,” coach Greg Gard said. “They know they had a chance.”
Wisconsin scored only 15 points in the first half on 7-for-26 shooting and was 0 for 10 from 3-point range before Reuvers ended the drought with 17:29 remaining.
After leading scorer Ethan Happ picked up his fourth foul with 10:38 left and Fernando made two free throws to make it 51-33, the Badgers looked done.
But Wisconsin came back after Fernando was called for his fourth foul with 9:18 to go.
Using a stiff defense and long-overdue sharp shooting from beyond the arc, the Badgers went on a 24-6 run to pull even at 57 with three minutes remaining.
“The execution was as good as it’s been in a while,” Gard said. “We really moved the ball, we shared it, we got it to the right people. Obviously, it helps when you make shots, but shots usually go in because of good execution. It’s not by accident.”
Reuvers scored a career-high 18 for Wisconsin. Happ finished with 10, half his season average.
Maryland got points from five different players and went 4 for 6 beyond the arc in bolting to a 24-10 lead. Cowan misfired on all five shots during the span, but his teammates went 8 for 11.
The Badgers went scoreless for nearly seven minutes before Happ made a put-back to snap a 9-0 run by the Terrapins.
But Cowan hit a jumper and Ayala followed with a 3-pointer to boost the margin to 17, and Fernando added four straight points to make it 33-13.
“There was a barrage there,” Gard said. “We didn’t execute well enough defensively, which gave them a couple of open looks from the perimeter.”
Wisconsin: The Badgers finally faltered on the road with an uncharacteristically poor shooting performance that extended deep into the second half. Wisconsin had won five straight Big Ten road games dating back to last season, including victories at Iowa and Penn State in 2018-19.
Maryland: The Terps survived an almost unforgivable collapse at home. If not for their work at the foul line, this one might have derailed a season that seemingly was headed in the right direction. It was a sharp reversal of form by Maryland, which trailed at halftime in three of its previous four victories before rallying.
Wisconsin: Hosts No. 2 Michigan on Saturday. The Badgers have beaten six Top 10 teams in four seasons under Gard.
Maryland: Faces Ohio State on the road Friday night. The Buckeyes have lost three straight following a 12-1 start.