BALTIMORE — On Thursday, Anthony Cowan Jr. attempted a three-pointer at the buzzer that could have led the Terrapins to a win at Purdue. The Boilermakers blocked the shot.
Less than 48 hours later, the drama was long gone by the final buzzer after Cowan scored 17 points to carry the No. 23 Terps to a 55-41 win over Loyola Chicago at Royal Farms Arena.
During the first half, Cowan scored the 1,000th point of his career, becoming the 55th player in program history to reach that mark. But in the game that was part of the Charm City Classic, both teams had slow offensive starts.
“We weren’t great offensively tonight, but we had really good shots and we moved the ball better,” Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon said. “Really what cost us the game the other night was our lack of ball movement late in the game. I think our ball movement was much better tonight. We really grew up in the last 48 hours. That’s what I’m excited about.”
Midway through the second half, Maryland (8-2) began a 11-0 run that included two three-pointers from freshman Serrel Smith Jr. and a long jumper from Bruno Fernando, the 6-foot-10 forward. Loyola Chicago (5-5) had to take a timeout trailing by 17, and the Ramblers never threatened Maryland’s lead.
The Terps’ offensive struggles from late in the Purdue game carried over into the early part of the matchup in Baltimore. Cowan was the only Terps player who had more than five points at halftime, but his teammates found their rhythm later in the game. Freshman Aaron Wiggins finished with 10 points, including two three-pointers. Maryland shot 34.6 percent from the field in the first half but improved to 57.1 percent in the second and finished at 44.7 percent for the game.
Maryland tested its frontcourt depth in the first half, not by choice but thanks to early foul trouble for its two primary big men. Fernando committed two fouls within the game’s first three minutes, and freshman Jalen Smith also picked up two in the first half.
Fernando and Smith combined for just 10 minutes on the court in the first half. In their place, Ricky Lindo Jr., Ivan Bender and Joshua Tomaic had more playing time than usual. In fact, Lindo and Bender both had more first-half minutes than Fernando and Smith. Turgeon said Bender helped the team get going offensively, while Lindo played smart and performed well defensively.
“For them to be able to stay in the game and keep doing the job we all planned to do in the locker room was big for us to help us get a win,” Fernando said.
Lindo finished the game with 24 minutes, the most he has played in a game this season. The 6-8 freshman scored two points and had five rebounds.
At halftime, Turgeon told the team the foul trouble could turn out to be beneficial in a way because the team came out of the locker room fresh.
The Ramblers returned three of their top five scorers from last season’s Final Four team, but they lacked depth. Loyola Chicago had to play without Lucas Williamson and Bruno Skokna, who are both dealing with injuries. In their place, the Ramblers started two freshman guards. Those two newcomers failed to score in 53 combined minutes.
Smith and Fernando, the usual starting forwards for Maryland, returned to the court at the beginning of the second half, but Smith finished the game with four fouls and limited action. Smith had averaged 12 points a game this season, but he only notched one free throw against the Ramblers in his 12 minutes on the court. Fernando played most of the second half and totaled eight points, five rebounds and four blocks.
Loyola Chicago had 19 turnovers and just five assists. Coach Porter Moser said his team had “too many bad possessions.”
Defensively, the Terps have played well in the past two games, which helped them overcome the early offensive issues.
“It was a little slow on offense,” Cowan said. “The best way you can change that is to play with some intensity on defense.”
Two Maryland starters, Smith and Darryl Morsell, grew up in Baltimore, and Morsell had more than 20 friends and family members at the game. Smith and Morsell’s high school coach at Mount Saint Joseph, Pat Clatchey, was at the game, as were former Maryland players from Baltimore, including Keith Booth, who played at Maryland from 1993 to 1997, and Ernie Graham, who played for the Terps from 1977 to 1981.
Morsell twisted his ankle during warmups, according to Turgeon, so the sophomore guard played only 12 minutes. Neither Smith nor Morsell had a poetic homecoming game, but their teammates filled in to help lead the team past Loyola Chicago.
“We had a lot going on,” Turgeon said, referencing Morsell’s injury and the early foul trouble. “Forced me to play depth, and depth was really good tonight.”
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