Just after committing an offensive foul by elbowing a defender in the chest with fewer than two minutes remaining in the Maryland men’s basketball team’s 71-68 loss to Indiana, guard Anthony Cowan had a chance to redeem himself and tie the game after stealing the ball from guard Josh Newkirk at the top of the key.
But Newkirk stayed in front of Cowan as he drove to the basket and blocked his layup attempt, one of five times the Hoosiers blocked Cowan’s shot Monday, in addition to the four times they stole the ball from him.
Cowan has been the Terps’ most consistent offensive weapon all season. His drives, acrobatic finishes and deep 3-pointers in big moments have helped buoy the team throughout the year. But down the stretch at Indiana, Cowan struggled around the basket, missing the team’s final shot and finishing 2-for-12 with six turnovers in the second half.
“He’s been terrific all year,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “He was visibly frustrated and therefore he wasn’t playing like Anthony’s played for us all year. But he battled.”
Cowan often found himself shaking his head in disbelief after being called for a foul or having the ball poked away from him. The Hoosiers denied him the opportunity to show off his skills around the rim, and the frequent turnovers seemed to be a result of the sophomore trying to do too much against Indiana’s interior defense.
Guard Kevin Huerter said the Terps forced a lot of shots.
“We could’ve gotten better shots,” Huerter added. “Those are the type of plays we couldn’t make because it seemed like they were just getting better shots on the other end.”
Cowan led the team with 18 points but took 18 shots, a season-high and twice as many as his next-closest teammate, Huerter.
Huerter finished with 16 points and was supposed to have a chance for more with the game on the line, he said. But rather than following the play Turgeon drew up trailing by three points with 15 seconds left, Cowan took a 3-pointer, which missed.
It was Cowan’s 12th missed shot of the game, his most this season. He was 1-for-6 from 3-point range and 5-for-8 from the free-throw line Monday, his worst percentage of the year, and he missed a crucial free throw with 2:34 remaining.
The frontcourt injuries Maryland’s sustained throughout the year, including losing forward Bruno Fernando to a sprained ankle against Indiana, have limited the team’s options on offense, forcing Cowan to shoulder an even heavier load than he planned on when tasked with replacing former guard Melo Trimble. Monday was the third time he’s played all 40 minutes of a game and sixth time he’s played at least 38.
His contributions have helped the Terps tread water as part of the Big Ten’s bloated middle class. He may have hurt the Terps at times in their loss to the Hoosiers, however, and he’ll have to rediscover his old form to bolster Maryland’s NCAA tournament resumé down the stretch.
“We’re not great when Anthony has to do that,” Turgeon said. “We’ll watch the film. He’s young, [a] sophomore, never going to come out. Can’t take him out. He could have 1,000 turnovers, [and] he’s still going to say in.”