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Road Finally Unkind, Terps Suffer Second Straight Loss

February 8, 2017
Justin Jackson, Kevin Huerter and Melo Trimble all scored in double figures, but the Maryland men's basketball team played perhaps its most sluggish game of the year from start to finish and fell, 70-64, at Penn State Feb. 7 for its second consecutive loss and first road loss of the season. 

Maryland (20-4 overall, 8-3 in Big Ten play) shot 33.9 percent from the field and 26.9 percent from 3-point range during the contest while turning the ball over 13 times during a sloppy offensive effort. Freshman forward Jackson led the Terps with 14, freshman guard Huerter had 12 and junior guard Trimble had 11, but the trio needed a combined 33 shots to get to those numbers.

Penn State (13-12, 5-7) jumped out to a 16-11 lead in the middle of the first half and nursed the advantage until halftime, when it took a 35-29 lead into the break. An ugly first half was complete with poor shooting from the Terps (2-of-12 from deep) and Nittany Lions (2-of-9). 

Maryland also found itself in foul trouble, with Trimble, senior center Damonte Dodd and junior center Michal Cekovsky all accruing two fouls during the half. That forced Terps head coach Mark Turgeon into some odd lineups to get through the half, like when he briefly went to guard Jaylen Brantley, Huerter, guard/forward Jared Nickens, forward L.G. Gill and forward Ivan Bender, which cuts into the squad's rhythm and continuity. 

The second half featured more of the same for the Terps, though they did shoot better from 3-point range to stay within striking distance of Penn State. A Huerter 3-pointer with 5:19 remaining shrunk a 12-point deficit to nine, a Jackson three later shrunk the lead to seven and a Brantley 3-pointer shortly thereafter made the score 62-58 in favor of the Nittany Lions. 

But too many missed opportunities helped do in the Terps. With Penn State leading 36-31 early in the second half, Brantley had an opportunity for a bucket in transition to cut the lead to three, but he missed the contested layup and Nittany Lions freshman small forward Lamar Stevens immediately made a jumper to stretch the lead back out to seven -- a four-point swing.

Later, with Penn State leading, 52-44, Bender missed a wide open layup that would've cut the lead to six, and the Nittany Lions scored the game's next three points to go up 11 with a tick less than eight minutes to play. Finally, with the score 64-60 in favor of Penn State late in regulation, the Terps ran a set to spring Brantley open for a corner three to cut the lead to one, but he airballed it. 

It was that kind of night for Maryland. More notes from the Terps' loss:

- It was the fourth poor shooting performance in five games for freshman guard Anthony Cowan, who hasn't hit a 3-pointer since Jan. 19 at Iowa. Cowan was 0-for-5 from the floor at Penn State Feb. 7 and 2-for-10 three days prior against Purdue. Cowan didn't seem to have his trademark quickness and explosion in breaking down the defense and getting to the rim in either contest. 

With the Terps in the dog days of conference play and Feb. 7 representing the second game in four days, it certainly would be forgivable if Cowan is a bit fatigued, especially considering how much the Terps have leaned on him this year. With that being said, the Terps as a whole didn't have much energy at Penn State. 

- Huerter was probably the best player on the court for the Terps. He racked up 37 minutes, three 3-pointers, four boards, five assists and two steals. Turgeon has said quite a bit during the last few weeks that he'd like to get Huerter the ball more, and any viewer can figure out why -- good things happen when he has the rock.

- Cowan played 23 minutes -- his third-fewest of the season -- so Brantley picked up the slack with 23 minutes of his own. He was 1-of-5 but did grab two boards and set up a Trimble 3-pointer early in the game. Otherwise, the bench was used sparsely, with Gill's nine minutes the next highest on the list.

- The Terps had a few too many defensive lapses leading to easy points for Penn State. Here's a perfect example: 

- Next on the docket for Maryland is Ohio State (14-10, 4-7) at Xfinity Center Feb. 11. It's the second time the Terps will see the Buckeyes in less than two weeks. Ohio State bounced back from its home loss to Maryland Jan. 31 with a big road win against Michigan Feb. 4. With Rutgers in town Feb. 8, the Buckeyes have a good chance to carry a two-game winning streak into College Park, Md. Ohio State has five scorers averaging double figures.