For the first time since Dec. 3, Maryland men’s basketball actually won a road game.
The 71-64 victory over Northwestern was not easy by any means. The Wildcats led from the beginning, jumping out to a 9-2 lead thanks to some hot shooting on the home side and some not-so-hot shooting from Maryland.
Northwestern led by seven going into halftime, but a 9-0 run from Maryland in the second half gave the Terps the lead with just under nine minutes remaining, and they didn’t look back from there.
But what made the difference for Maryland in that second half comeback? Much like our analysis earlier this season, the Terps success came in the paint, not from beyond the arc.
Maryland is 19-11 on the season, with a 14-5 record when attempting 20 or fewer three-point shots. They shot 21 threes in the win over the Wildcats on Monday, but the dominance in the paint was the deciding factor in the game nonetheless.
During the momentous 9-0 run halfway through the second half, the first six points came in the paint. The five-point deficit quickly turned into a one-point lead thanks to an impressive Anthony Cowan drive and two layups from Dion Wiley.
Granted, it’s easy to get points in the paint while getting layups off of steals, but the Terps didn’t stop there. With Cowan, Wiley and Kevin Huerter attacking on the dribble, and Bruno Fernando and Michal Cekovsky battling inside, Maryland outscored Northwestern in the paint 34-16.
Fernando’s nine points and Cekovsky’s eight didn’t the lead team, but their contributions played a huge role in taking some of the pressure off the guards during the comeback.
Turnovers led to more fastbreak points on layups and an inside-outside progression spread the floor on offense. The Terps were able to flip the script on their road woes this season because they did that.
Going forward, Maryland has one last home game against No. 17 Michigan before the Big Ten tournament. Although Madison Square Garden isn’t a home floor for any Big Ten team, the inside game will have to play a role for the Terps to make a run.