IOWA CITY — The slow start won’t matter, and Iowa’s near comeback won’t be what Maryland fans recall about this one, either. The Terrapins’ win at Iowa on Tuesday night will be remembered as the one that ended the streak, that halted the infamous drought Terps fans have long attached to Coach Mark Turgeon’s name.
With its 66-65 victory over No. 21 Iowa, No. 24 Maryland took down a ranked team on the road for the first time since 2008, and the Terps did so in dramatic fashion. Turgeon, who took over at Maryland before the 2011-12 season, hadn’t led a team to such a win since December 2006.
“I got some texts today saying, ‘Today we’re going to beat the streak,’ ” Turgeon said after the game, downplaying the significance of ending the drought. “I had no idea what they were talking about. That’s not important to me. . . . That doesn’t mean anything to me. People talk. I don’t care. I care about tonight.”
With Turgeon’s team down by a point, Bruno Fernando tipped in Anthony Cowan Jr.’s missed layup for a 66-65 lead with 7.8 seconds to go. The Terrapins’ defense held; Iowa’s pair of shots to win it on its final possession missed.
“I was just trying to go for a rebound,” Fernando said. “Honestly, that’s what I knew. I was confident that Ant was going to make the layup, but I just went to the boards, just in case.”
Cowan led the Terps (20-7, 11-5 Big Ten) throughout the night with one of his best games of the season, finishing with 17 points and eight assists. He made two three-pointers in the final six minutes.
Eric Ayala and Fernando notched 11 points apiece, and in addition to his game-winner, Fernando hit a pair of critical free throws in the final minute.
Jordan Bohannon, who missed a three-pointer on the Hawkeyes’ last possession, scored 14 points for Iowa (20-6, 9-6). Turgeon said he knew Bohannon would be the player Iowa turned to at the buzzer, but Cowan contested the shot. Iowa grabbed the offensive rebound for one final chance, but Isaiah Moss missed a jumper.
“Luckily the shot clock is going down and they had to rush the second shot,” Turgeon said. “I thought it was going in. It bounced our way tonight.”
Even after Maryland led by double digits with about six minutes to go, Iowa nearly managed a comeback win. The Terps led for the first 17 minutes of the second half, but Iowa began to slowly climb back in it, and Nicholas Baer hit a go-ahead three-pointer with 2:37 left to make it 61-60. Ayala responded with a basket, but so did Moss for the Hawkeyes, who led 63-62.
With 25 seconds left, Iowa sent Fernando to the foul line. The 6-foot-10 forward hit both to give Maryland a 64-63 lead. Bohannon then made two free throws as Iowa moved ahead with 17 seconds left, setting up Fernando’s winning basket.
“My guys were tough tonight," Turgeon said.
At Maryland, Turgeon had not beaten a ranked team on the road in 19 attempts, and he finished his four-year tenure at Texas A&M with an 0-9 record in such games. He last beat a ranked team on the road when he was the coach at Wichita State and the Shockers beat No. 15 Syracuse in 2006.
Maryland hadn’t beaten a ranked team on the road since Jan. 19, 2008, when it upset No. 1 North Carolina. Of the 75 teams in the six power conferences, Oregon State was the only program that had gone longer without a road win over a top-25 team.
Iowa entered this game having won its previous two on buzzer-beaters — against Northwestern and Rutgers, two of the bottom four teams in the Big Ten. Without its improbable win Saturday against the Scarlet Knights — the Hawkeyes’ Connor McCaffery heaved the ball across the court, and Joe Wieskamp banked in the winning three-pointer at the buzzer — Iowa likely would have dropped out of the rankings.
Maryland started the game with an atrocious offensive showing, shooting 1 for 12 through just over 10 minutes, and Turgeon wasn’t pleased with the team’s defense during that stretch either. The Terps didn’t record a field goal until Ricky Lindo Jr. dunked more than six minutes in. Yet Maryland never fell behind by much, thanks to Iowa starting nearly as poorly offensively. Without Iowa missing wide-open threes, Turgeon said, the Hawkeyes might have led by double digits at halftime.
In Maryland’s final chance of the season to get this skid-snapping win for Turgeon, the Terrapins played with poise in the final moments. It’s still just one win in a long season that will be defined by Maryland’s postseason performance, but now the Terrapins and Turgeon finally have the win they had long been looking for. Even if it’s a streak Turgeon won’t admit to knowing much about, Cowan said he was aware of the criticism that had followed his team and his coach.
“I’ve heard it a couple times,” he said. “I was happy to get this for Coach.”
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