Nearly three months later, Maryland players headed to the same fence separating the stadium from the stands to express their gratitude one last time. The Terps had just defeated No. 21 Northwestern with a strong second run, and they 75-59 Winning the final game at home on Sunday afternoon they completed a perfect Big Ten campaign in this building.
Maryland won all 10 conference games at the Xfinity Center, a streak of dominance that helped the Terps climb toward the top of the Big Ten and make up for their struggles on the road. The win over Northwestern was the Terps’ fifth win against a conference-ranked opponent at home and added another solid win to their resume. After the last bell, several players raised their arms to make a heart out with their hands, and waded through a sea of high five-arms on their way to the locker room.
“The fan base has really supported this group,” Willard said. “I think they appreciated how hard they worked, how hard they played.”
As Maryland (20-9, 11-7) edged past the Wildcats, Young led the way again, just as he did against the Illini in December and as he has done all season. He had 18 points as all five freshmen finished in double figures on senior day.
“It’s a moment you’ll remember for the rest of your life,” said Young, one of the five seniors honored before the game. “I just try to take care of work but also enjoy it and stay in the moment.”
No. 6 Virginia’s running back continued with a 71-63 loss at North Carolina
Terps shot 53.8 percent from the field and made 14 3-pointers on 22 attempts (63.6 percent). Sweet forward Julian Reese scored 12 points and 10 rebounds. Maryland’s offense looked smooth as it scored only seven tackles, and Hakeem Hart (10 points) handed out seven assists for the team.
Northwestern (20-9, 11-7) is on the cusp of its second NCAA Tournament appearance in school history, and the Wildcats have won five road games in conference play this season.
The two teams turned in offensive displays in the first half, each shooting a high clip (61.5 percent for Maryland, 59.3 percent for Northwestern). They combined for only four turnovers and 11 errors, and neither team led by more than five. Maryland made eight three-pointers. Northwestern guard Boo Buie had seven assists as the Terps struggled to contain Chase Audige, who had 14 points. Maryland’s Patrick Emilian kicked a beautiful pass to Young, who jumped in for a dunk. And Young hit three contenders at the buzzer to lift the Tripps to a 41-39 edge at halftime.
When the teams came back, Maryland kept rallying and the Wildcats just couldn’t keep up. Willard said his defense had some “mental breakdowns” leading up to Northwestern’s three-pointers in the first half, but after halftime the Terps got more stops. In the second half, the Terps limited Audige to two points while Buie made one pass. The Northwestern support team could not put up enough production to counter the intense shooting in Maryland.
“They outplayed us in the second half,” said Northwestern coach Chris Collins. “We couldn’t keep up with the scoring.”
Buie, the Wildcats’ leading scorer this year, finished with just four points on 1-for-9 shooting. He’d averaged 24.8 points in his previous five innings as Northwestern emerged as a powerhouse in the Big Ten, but the Terps stopped that stellar stretch.
Here’s what else you should know about Maryland’s win:
Maryland went in shooting 31.3 percent from three-point range, the second-worst mark in the Big Ten. But after the Terps made 7 of 13 attempts from outside the arc on Wednesday against a struggling Minnesota defense, they held their own against the Wildcats, posting a season-best 63.6%.
Four Maryland players—Don Curry (4-for-7), Young (4-for-7), Ian Martinez (3-for-3), and Hart (2-for-4)—made multiple shots from outside the arc, a promising sign as the postseason approaches. season.
Kevin Willard and the Art of Good Timing
Maryland is in a strong position to claim the top four seed and a double bye in the Big Ten Tournament, which begins March 8 in Chicago. Rips is in a four-way tie for second with Northwestern, Indiana and Michigan. Bordeaux (13-5) maintained its position at the top of the league despite four defeats in its past six matches.
Maryland closes out with two road games – at Ohio State on Wednesday and at Penn State on Sunday.
Maryland honored five seniors prior to the tip. All of these players – Young, Hart, Emilian, Curry and Donta Scott – have great roles in the rotation. Scott and Hart joined the program after graduating from high school and were part of Maryland’s ten-game winning team in 2020. Young (Charlotte), Curry (Georgetown), and Emilian (St. Francis Brooklyn) arrived as transfers this season.
“I’m in this for the long haul,” Willard said. And what those guys did – Huck and Donta and these three [transfers] – They set the tone, set the culture on a very high level.
Willard got five seniors to the ground together late in the game, then replaced them all with 1:18 remaining. The crowd gave a standing ovation.
Because the NCAA has granted additional eligibility to collegiate athletes due to the coronavirus pandemic, Day 1 festivities don’t necessarily mark the end of a player’s career. Of the Maryland group, only Carey and Emilian have exhausted their eligibility; They used their extra season to play in Maryland. Hart, Scott and Young all have eligibility that leaves the door open for another season at College Park.
“Prone to fits of apathy. Introvert. Award-winning internet evangelist. Extreme beer expert.”