Maryland bullied Nebraska in the paint and pulled away in the second half at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Friday night to hand Nebraska a 90-74 loss.
The Huskers fell to 1-14 in conference play with one home game — and five total in the regular season — remaining.
The foul-ridden game featured 46 fouls, including a technical, and 64 free throws, lasting two hours and 13 minutes.
Maryland shot 4-of-19 from 3 but outscored Nebraska 46-28 in the paint to finish at 52.5% from the field. Nebraska shot 40% (5-of-17 from 3) including 10-of-23 on layups and dunks. Six Terrapins finished in double figures led by point guard Fatts Russell with 23 as Maryland finished with four turnovers, a season-low against Nebraska.
“It was turnovers and it was missed rim attempts,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said. “In those two areas, they converted pretty much every time. We had 12 turnovers, which isn’t a horrible number — we’d like to be under 10 — but those 12 turnovers turned into 21 points for them. So when we turned it over, they converted on the other end, and when we missed shots at the rim, which we missed several of, they got us on the other end as well because our floor balance wasn’t what it needed to be. So those were two areas that they extended their lead with, with the turnovers and those missed shots at the rim. Points off turnovers, 21 to seven; when we get outscored by that margin, we’ve really struggled to be in games.”
Bryce McGowens finished with a game-high 25 points, shooting 14-of-15 from the foul line. Alonzo Verge Jr. added 14 points, five rebounds and five assists while C.J. Wilcher chipped in 10 points off the bench.
Nebraska got off to a great start as Verge found Bryce McGowens for an alley-oop on the opening possession. The Huskers scored on their first four possessions to take an early 8-4 lead, and they held the lead for the next 10 minutes.
However, the offense dried up as the Huskers struggled to finish at the rim while freshman Julian Reese sparked the Terrapins off the bench, scoring seven points during an 11-2 run that gave Maryland a 25-21 lead.
Lat Mayen knocked down 3s on back-to-back possessions, ending an extended drought form the field for Nebraska and giving the Huskers the lead again at 30-29. The lead changed hands five more times with four ties in the last five-and-a-half minutes of the half. Russell broke the final tie with a breakaway layup after a Nebraska turnover to give Maryland a 42-40 lead at halftime.
The Huskers went the final 4:47 without a field goal, but the free-throw line kept them in the game. The first half featured 19 fouls and 27 free throws between the two teams.
Bryce McGowens accounted for the majority of Nebraska’s freebies, shooting 7-of-8 to lead Nebraska with 11 points at the break. The Huskers shot 12-of-14 at the line and 4-of-9 from deep but just 8-of-20 inside the arc including 5-of-13 on layups.
Reese led Maryland with a career-high 13 at the break on 4-of-5 from the field and 5-of-5 from the line. Russell added 11 but it took him 11 shots and four free throws to get there as he missed all five of his 3-point attempts. Maryland shot 46.9% from the field including 1-of-9 from deep and 11-of-13 at the charity stripe.
Russell knocked down a wide open 3 from the top of the key on the first possession out of the locker room, however, sparking a 12-3 start to the half for the Terrapins. The Terps scored on five of their first six possessions to build the first double-digit lead of the game for either team at 54-43.
“That’s where we lost the game was those first four or five minutes the second half,” Hoiberg said. “They came out, I think, and went on a 12-3 run. You’ve got to come out with that fire and energy to try and grab the momentum when it’s a tight game, it’s a one possession game at halftime. I thought we did some really good things offensively in the first half, and when they go on their run, that’s when we come down and try to get it back at once.”
Verge tried to get the Huskers back in it with a pair of free throws, an assist to Eduardo Andre and a three-point play cut the deficit to eight, but he picked up his fourth foul with 13:45 to play and had to take a seat.
The lead swelled to 19 with a 13-2 Maryland run and things got chippy. Bryce McGowens drew a foul on the ground but continued to the rim, and Reese challenged the shot. They got tangled up and Reese shoved McGowens after the play, leading to a technical foul.
McGowens hit both free throws, but Maryland remained firmly in control, pushing the lead to 20 a couple of times as fans began to head for the exits in droves.
“We’ve got to give them something to cheer about,” Hoiberg said. “For us, when we go out there and we play with energy, we play with juice, they’re behind us 100% .I can’t tell you how much we appreciate our fans continuing to come out and support us. We’ve got to give ourselves a chance to keep them there. Tonight, again, we just lost that not bringing the energy that we needed to have in the second half to grab momentum in that game. But for us, we’ve got to play consistent basketball. If we do that, once we start winning, they’re going to be here for us in a big way; we know that.”
The Huskers used a 12-2 run including 10 points from Bryce McGowens to cut the deficit in half with three minutes to play, but 10 was as close as they got as the comeback fell well short.
Maryland shot nearly 60% from the field in the second half while the Huskers failed to crack 40% and hit just one 3-pointer. Donta Scott scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half to complement Russell’s 13 after halftime.
“Dante Scott in the second half just had his way with us,” Hoiberg said. “Going in there, I thought we did a solid job guarding the 3, but inside, points in the paint, they outscored us 46 to 28. So that was a huge factor in the game and first half, Reese goes out and has 13, he has a career high in the first half on us. Not staying down on pump fakes, that’s what allowed them to get to the free-throw line as well. That kid’s a heck of a player; he’s he’s gong to be a problem in this league for a long time. But Scott in the second half, like I said, he pretty much had his way with our guys.”
Nebraska will hit the road next for a rematch with Northwestern on Tuesday.
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.