Things were going great for Gopher basketball on Wednesday night as they were hosting the Big Ten leading Maryland Terrapins. Seven made threes in the first half and everything was going right for Minnesota as they took a 16-point lead into halftime. But Maryland won the final 20 minutes and came away with massive 74-73 comeback win.
We’ve said all along that when this team is making threes, they are really difficult to beat. And the first 20 minutes absolutely proved that. The Gophers started out 5/5 from behind the arc while Maryland really struggled to put the ball through the hoop, regardless of where they were shooting from. Their first made three came late in the first half and it was a banked in shot.
It certainly helped that Jalen Smith, Maryland’s best player, played only 4:20 in the first half due to foul trouble. But the the Gophers were hot. Daniel Oturu had 15 points and 5 rebounds, Marcus Carr also had 15 points while the entire team shot 57% in the first half.
But the second half was very different.
The Terps made a quick 7-2 run to start the half and the nerves set it. But an Oturu basket followed by a Gabe Kalscheur three bumped it right back to a 16-point margin with 15:55 left.
At 11:14 is when Maryland first cut the lead back down to single digits when Aaron Wiggins made a field goal to bring the game to within 9. Another 5-0 Gopher run after that put it back up to at 14-point game with 8:59 and this little run allowed Gopher fans a chance to breath a sigh of relief. For the moment.
But the final 2 minutes is where the Gophers were not capable of putting this Maryland team away. And 8-point lead with 2:06 dwindles to a 4-point lead in the final 40 seconds where Minnesota missed three consecutive free throws, two of them being the front end of a 1:1. Kalscheur missed a free throw with 39 seconds left, up 4. Carr missed the front end of a 1:1 with 24 seconds left and still up 4. Then Kalscheur missed a front end, up 2 with 12 seconds.
His final miss fell to Aaron Wiggins, the ball was advanced up the floor and then Darryl Morsell hit a three to give Maryalnd their first lead since early in the first half.
A 74-73 final with Maryland completing what was a 17-point come from behind win. So many opportunities to put this game away and the Gophers failed to do enough of them to win.
A huge gut-punch for the Gophers who had every opportunity to close out what would have been an impressive and vital upset over a the Big Ten’s best team.
Up next is a trip to Madison for a 5:30 Sunday tip.