Just as it has been in almost every Big Ten conference game this year, this one was close. And this time, like the others, head coach Chris Collins’ Wildcats were unable to pull off the upset. The 13th-ranked Maryland Terrapins defeated Northwestern in dramatic fashion, 68-67, in College Park, Md. Sunday night.
“I’m really proud of my team,” Collins said. “I thought we played a great basketball game.”
The ‘Cats jumped out to an 11-point lead going into halftime, drilling seven three-point shots in the first half. But, despite hitting eight three-point field goals in the game, the Terps fought their way back.
The momentum shifted with just under 10 minutes left in the game when Maryland drilled a three, making it a six-point game. When that happened, the Xfinity Center went berserk and seemed to breathe new life into the Terrapins.
They continued their run, and with just 20.6 seconds left in the game, the Terps took their first lead.
Junior Tre Demps nearly hit the game-winner for the ‘Cats when he drilled a jumper with less than 10 seconds to go. Maryland responded with a put-back bankshot that gave them a one-point lead with 1.4 seconds left.
Demps’ last-ditch heave didn’t go in.
Turnovers plagued Northwestern, as they finished with 17 on the game. Freshman Bryant McIntosh led the way for the ‘Cats, finishing with 21 points and a team-high 37 minutes on the court.
“We didn’t finish tonight,” McIntosh said. “We were up 11 with about three minutes to go and we got beat. We have to learn how to finish the game.”
The loss extended Northwestern’s losing streak to six games, five of which were lost by a deficit of, at most, five points – or in overtime.
“We have to learn how to win,” Collins said. “I take that personally because it’s my job as a coach to teach these guys the way to win in the last couple minutes. I take it personally.”
The ‘Cats will be back at it Saturday, when they take on Purdue in Evanston.
Emoji Cam: During a timeout in the second half, Maryland brought out possibly the greatest two-minute distraction ever. On their video board, they showed emojis and had fans impersonate them. It was incredible. Welsh-Ryan, take notes.
Three-pointers: In the first half alone, the ‘Cats went 7-of-12 from beyond the arc. In the second half, they cooled off a bit, but still finished the game with eight threes. Only hitting one three in the second half certainly hurt Northwestern, but eight on the game is better than most performances this season.
Bryant McIntosh: Wow. Just wow. This kid has IT. When it looked liked Maryland was going to fight its way back late in the game, he stepped up and drilled the clutch buckets. He finished with 21 points, 3 assists and 3 rebounds in 37 minutes. He’s been the catalyst for Northwestern this year. It’ll be fun to watch his game improve as he grows up.
Arena Atmosphere: It’s not that the atmosphere was bad, it was that it was SO good. These Maryland fans know how to cheer on a basketball team. Yes, they have more than double Northwestern’s student population, but these guys were vocal and animated in their cheering. It was a whole different level than what Welsh-Ryan brings to the table.
My fingernails: This was tense down the stretch. Maryland brought the game to within three points with under a minute to go and it was absolutely nerve-wracking. When Maryland hit two free throws to give them their first lead of the game with 20.6 seconds left, my fingers were bleeding.