Nebraska played Maryland even through 32 minutes, but the Terrapins dominated the last eight to pull away for a 64-50 win at College Park on Tuesday night.
The Huskers shot 7-of-19 on layups and 33.3% from the field overall as Nebraska’s offense dried up in the second half and its defense fell apart down the stretch in Nebraska’s sixth game in 11 days.
“I think five and change it was still a two-point game, and then we completely fell apart really on both ends,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said. “When you miss layups and you miss free throws and they go down and they convert those same types of shots, it was a little bit deflating. There is a sense of fatigue with our guys right now. We’re trying to do everything we can … But I thought our guys battled. I thought they played hard. I didn’t think it was an effort thing tonight … These last seven, eight minutes of games right now, I think we’re wearing down and I do think a lot of it is fatigue.”
Teddy Allen led the Huskers with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting and five rebounds. Dalano Banton connected from downtown for the second straight game, shooting 2-of-5 from deep, and he chipped in 10 points. The rest of the Huskers combined to score 22 points on 8-of-31 from the field.
Derrick Walker played just eight minutes and none after the 6:08 mark of the first half. When he left the game, Nebraska trailed by one. Fred Hoiberg said Walker “wasn’t feeling well, wasn’t feeling right,” so they sat him to be safe. Hoiberg said they’ll re-evaulate him on Wednesday.
Maryland was 12-of-16 at the rim and was plus-3 from both the perimeter and the foul line. Aaron Wiggins scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed a game high 11 rebounds. Nebraska forced Maryland into a season-high 17 turnovers, but the Huskers converted them into just four points on the other end.
“We turned them over 17 times and scored four points off their turnovers,” Hoiberg said. “We would get steals and the ball would just fumble out of our hands when we had numbers and we failed to convert on those. Activity level I thought was good, we just really struggled to convert once we did get the turnover.”
The teams traded the lead a few times early on as both sides shot the bell well from deep and forced turnovers but struggled to finish inside the arc. After a four-minute scoring drought, Trey McGowens sparked an 8-2 run capped by a pair of 3s from Banton to give Nebraska a 21-16 lead.
The Huskers went cold again, going without a field goal for nearly five minutes as Maryland pulled ahead 25-23. Banton hit a pair of free throws for Nebraska’s only points during that stretch.
Allen scored on back-to-back possessions with a layup and a 3 to put the Huskers ahead 28-27 with 1:47 to go, but Nebraska didn’t score the rest of the half. Eric Ayala hit a pair of free throws then, off a Nebraska miss, Darryl Morsell pushed the ball ahead and banked in a 3 from just inside halfcourt at the buzzer to make it 32-28 at the break.
Nebraska shot 38.5% from the field in the first half including 4-of-12 inside the arc as Maryand used both a switching man-to-man and a 3-2 zone on defense. Allen led the way with 10 points including a pair of triples while Banton (eight points) and Lat Mayen (six) knocked down two 3-pointers apiece.
Maryland shot 40.7% from the field including 7-of-17 from 3. He Huskers forced 10 Terrapin turnovers but only converted them into two points on the other end.
Nebraska opened the half shooting 1-of-6 form the field with five of those attempts coming from the perimeter. A three-point play on a bad goal-tending call gave the Terrpains a 38-31 lead before Banton banked in a jumper to get Nebraska back on the board.
Nebraska missed its next five shots before Shamiel Stevenson converted a three-point play. The Huskers continued to turn the Terrapins over at a high rate and a pull-up jumper by Allen cut the deficit to two.
The Huskers kept chipping away and eventually tied it at 44-all on a 3-pointer by Kobe Webster, but Maryland dominated the rest of the way, closing the game on a 20-6 run. Wiggins scored 12 of those points as Nebraska couldn’t find a way to slow him down.
Allen was the only Husker to make a shot in the final eight minutes. Jace Piatkowski split a pair of free throws at the end after both teams cleared their benches.
“They’re a phenomenal defensive team, give them credit for that for going out there and making life tough on that end of the floor,” Hoiberg said. “I really did think as things got more difficult for us, instead of cutting harder and moving more, we got more stagnant, and that can’t happen. We’re going to go back and watch an edit on it in the morning when we get the guys up for breakfast, get their treatments and watch an edit. We’ve been doing a lot of that and just really trying to teach through film. That’s where we are with the schedule. I’s all about going back and finding corrections and hopefully going out there and executing on the floor for those 40 minutes.”
Nebraska scored 22 points on 33 possessions in the second half, shooting 28.6% from the field. After hitting six 3s in the half, the Husker cooled off and went 2-for-14 from deep in the second, and they only hit half of their eight free-throw attempts.
The Huskers will have 22 hours to figure out a better way to attack the Terrapins as the two teams will run it back on Wednesday night.
“We’ve got to find a way to not let this linger,” Hoiberg said. “If you let that go into tomorrow’s game, it can get ugly pretty quick. When you play back-to-backs, it’s all about rebounding, finding a way to get yourself back. The concentration level, we’ll watch an edit on things tomorrow, make some adjustments and then hopefully go out and play well and knock down shots. Ou guys are completely exhausted right now and we’ve got to find a way to muster up the energy, put this one behind us and give everything we’ve got.”
Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. on Big Ten Network.
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.