The little things cost Nebraska a chance at a quality road win to open the bulk of Big Ten play on Wednesday evening as the Huskers lost at Maryland 74-72.
Nebraska missed eight of its 25 free throws, allowed 14 offensive rebounds that led to 14 second chance points and gave up 17 points on 10 turnovers to spoil an otherwise strong effort on the road.
James Palmer Jr. led the way with 26 points on 7-of-19 shooting (3-of-10 from 3) and 9-of-13 from the free-throw line, seven rebounds, five steals and four assists in 38 minutes. Glynn Watson Jr. added 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting (2-of-4 from 3), six rebounds and four assists. Isaiah Roby added 11 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two assists.
Tanner Borchardt played a career-high 19 minutes and scored eight points on 4-of-4 shooting, but he was the only one who scored off the bench.
Nebraska shot 47.1 percent from the field including 9-of-22 (40.9 percent) from 3 but lost the rebounding battle by 10. Sophomore center Bruno Fernando had 18 points and 17 rebounds and his frontcourt partner Jalen Smith, a 5-star freshman, added 15 points and four boards. Junior point guard Anthony Cowan led the Terps with 19 points and four assists. Maryland shot 8-of-17 from downtown.
Palmer put the team on his back early, accounting for 13 straight points for Nebraska (scoring 10 and assisting a 3 by Copeland). After all that, the Huskers led 25-20.
Maryland caught fire, hitting five-of-seven shots to pull ahead 30-29 with a 6-0 run. Watson picked up his second foul on a charge and Maryland hit a 3 after a timeout to add to the lead. Thomas Allen Jr. finally snapped the run with a 3-pointer, ending a 1-for-10 shooting stretch for the Huskers.
Palmer found Borchardt for a layup then Roby hit a 3-pointer to make it 37-33. Maryland got two back from the free-throw line but Allen scored just before the buzzer to give Nebraska a 39-35 lead at halftime.
Nebraska hit four of its last five shots while the Terrapins missed their last four and went over four minutes without a bucket. Palmer led the way with 13 points, five boards and three assists.
Maryland scored four straight to open the second half, but the Huskers responded with eight straight including Roby blocking a dunk attempt by Fernando then stuffing it on Smith on the other end.
ISAIAH ROBY THAT MAN HAS A FAMILY pic.twitter.com/US6PJKCzro
— Derek Peterson (@DrPeteyHV) January 3, 2019
Nebraska couldn’t get the lead beyond eight, however, as Maryland countered with an 10-2 run to tie it at 49-all. Five ties and three more lead changes followed over the next five minutes as the teams went bucket for bucket.
Cowan put the Terps up three with a triple then Ricky Lindo Jr. split a pair of free throws after an offense rebound, but Nebraska got Copeland the ball out of a timeout and he drilled a 3-pointer (just his fourth field goal attempt of the game) to make it a one-point game.
Nebraska got a stop but couldn’t secure the board and Cowan ht another trey to push it back to four. The Huskers scored four straight to tie it once again with just over four minutes to play then forced a turnover, but Palmer missed a 3 and Maryland got a dunk plus a foul from Smith on the other end. The free-throw made it 70-67, but Watson got to the free-throw line and hit both then Palmer got a steal and breakaway slam to give the Huskers a 71-70 lead.
The teams traded empty possessions, then Cowan missed a 3 against Nebraska’s 1-3-1 with less than 40 seconds to play, but Smith got inside position and scored on a put-back with 31 seconds to go.
Palmer drew a foul with 21.5 seconds to play but split the free-throws, tying the game at 72-all. Maryland ran down the clock then got the ball to the middle of the zone and the freshman Smith hit a runner over Copeland to take the lead with 3.8 to play.
Coach Tim Miles drew up a play to get Roby a lob at the rim from halfcourt, but the pass was too low and Maryland broke it up to secure the win.
— Jacob Padilla (@JacobPadilla_) January 3, 2019
Borchardt was the only reserve who got off Nebraska’s bench in the second half and he played just six minutes as Miles rode his starters most of thew way.
Nebraska’s road trip will continue on Sunday as the Huskers swing through Iowa City to take on the Hawkeyes. Tipoff on BTN is set for 4:30 p.m.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.