COLLEGE PARK — The frustration uncontrollably spewed out of Mark Turgeon. With under eight minutes to go, and Maryland trailing by three, he peered up at the scoreboard and grimaced during a timeout. His Terrapins just couldn’t grab Minnesota by scruff and deliver the decisive knockout blow when they lurked.
Four minutes later, after Minnesota upped their advantage to eight, Turgeon received a technical foul when he reacted wildly to an unfavorable call on the offensive end. After two successful technical free throws and an ensuing layup, the Gophers swelled their lead to 12 and pummeled an anxious crowd at the Xfinity Center, holding on to win their sixth straight, 89-75.
The loss is the Terrapins’ fourth in the last six games.
“Tonight, we just didn’t have it,” Turgeon said. “Remember when we stunk in the first half and were great in the second half earlier in the season? Man, it’s a long year guys. A lot of games, a lot on these kids. We weren’t great tonight, please give Minnesota all the credit. We’ll be ready to go Saturday.”
Earlier in the season, Maryland (22-6, 10-5) pulled off valiant comebacks to soar into the national polls. Now, ever since the meltdown to Nebraska on New Year’s Day, the Terrapins’ offense is seemingly non-existent down the stretch. With back-to-back losses, and a No. 24 positioning in the Associated Press Top 25 heading into this week, it’s all but certain the Terrapins will lose their ranked status.
“I’ll take the blame for that,” Turgeon said of not finishing down the stretch. “We just gotta figure it out. We’ve been a heck of a team. We’re 22-6, 10-5 in the league. We’ve had a heck of a year. Just didn’t have a great night.”
Maryland took a 35-34 halftime lead, fueled by their bench that produced 26 points. The bench finished with 31 points, with a career-high 15 points from Ivan Bender (7-for-10 shooting).
The starters, meanwhile, combined to shoot 34 percent from the floor (17-for-50) and 26 percent from deep (5-for-19).
Minnesota used an 8-2 spurt triggered by a pair of 3’s from Akeem Springs (16 points in 18 minutes) to mount an early 10-4 lead. Springs, who is averaging 10 points per game this year, matched his season average six minutes into the contest on a jumper that extended Minnesota’s lead to 12-6.
Jaylen Brantley (eight points) countered with two 3’s to cut the Gophers’ lead down to 12-9 and 17-16 in the opening 10 minutes.
The Gophers pushed ahead with 10-0 run, 27-19, with under seven minutes remaining in the first half.
“Majority of the credit has to go to them,” Turgeon said. “We talked about being better defensively and we weren’t tonight.”
Springs hit two quick 3’s out of the second half gates to give the Gophers a 40-35 lead.
Soon after, Huerter tied the game at 42-all with a catch-and-shoot 3 on the wing and then one minute later, Cowan got on the scoreboard with a 3 from the top of the key, which pushed Maryland ahead 46-45.
Dupree McBrayer, who finished with a game-high 18 points, tied it at 53-all with a 3 and then nailed a mid-range jumper in a 30 second span to spark a 9-0 run that gave Minnesota a 59-53 lead with under 11 left.
Trimble brought it to 59-56 on a 3-pointer from the wing before Minnesota staked their largest lead of the game at 70-60 via a 9-0 with just over six minutes to play. After Trimble’s basket at the 10:22 mark, Maryland didn’t score another bucket until 5:49 to go, when Cowan swiped a steal and finished in transition to make it an eight point game.
Not even a minute later, Turgeon received the game-deciding technical foul, which proved to be a four-point swing, upping the Gophers’ lead from eight to 12.
Without junior center Michal Cekovsky, who fractured his left ankle in the second half at No. 11 Wisconsin Saturday, Maryland stood tall on the glass, out-rebounding Minnesota 42-36.
Cekovsky appeared in 17 games for the Terrapins this season, averaging a career-high 7.6 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.
Maryland shot 41 percent from the floor (30-for-73) while Minnesota shot 50 percent (32-for-64) and 55 percent in the second half.
The Terrapins also assisted on 22 of their 30 field goals, but only had two fast break points.
Trimble, who was named the Big Ten Player of the Week for his performances against Northwestern and No. 11 Wisconsin, where he averaged 29.5 points on 21-for-34 shooting (62 percent), finished with 11 points (4-for-12 shooting, 1-for-6 from deep) and six assists.
Cowan (11 points), like Trimble, struggled on the perimeter, only converting 4 of 13 shots, but did dish four assists.
Jackson notched 10 points and seven rebounds. Huerter pitched in with five points on a lackluster
Maryland will look to bounce back when they host struggling Iowa on Saturday.
“You’re dealing with 18 and 20-year old kids,” Turgeon said. “We’ll get it figured out. I love my team. We didn’t play well, Minnesota was great. Tonight, it happens.”