Maryland came so close to toppling a giant of Division I college basketball. But its star player, a giant in his own right, took ownership of the paint and hardly relinquished it.
Despite that, No. 3 Purdue (19-1, 8-1 Big Ten) still needed to fend off a late rally from Maryland men’s basketball (12-7, 3-5 Big Ten) that ended with Jahmir Young missing a game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer.
Zach Edey piled up 24 points and 16 rebounds, and he proved too much for the Terps to overcome in the closing seconds as they fell 58-55 to the Boilermakers.
“I don’t think the plan was bad [against Edey and Purdue],” coach Kevin Willard said.
“Anytime you hold Purdue to 58 points in this building, I thought we did a really good job in getting them to take a lot of shots they’re not used to taking … I thought we did a good job of not letting them be so fluid.”
Despite its 7-foot-4 center’s high point total, Purdue’s 58 total points was its lowest in a home game since a 70-53 loss to Michigan on Jan. 22, 2021. Julian Reese largely kept the match close for Maryland with a 19-point performance that led the Terps in scoring.
“Offensively, the way [Reese] has played too, he was really giving us a good boost now that he’s playing with more offensive confidence,” Willard said. Hakim Hart and Young rounded out Maryland’s scorers with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
As the game commenced, Edey used the Boilermakers’ first possession to hammer all of the potential fears Maryland had facing him deeper into the Terps’ subconscious, quickly dunking after receiving a pass over Julian Reeses’ head to a roaring hostile crowd.
From there though, Maryland kept pace. Jahmir Young had some early drives that failed to generate anything productive unlike his effectiveness in the Terps’ win against Michigan Thursday. A 38-second stretch eight minutes into the game threw up more concerning red flags.
Reese and Caelum Swanton-Rodger, two important big men needed to defend against Edey, committed four personal fouls in under a minute with Reese committing some on-ball fouls and Swanton-Rodger committing off-ball fouls while trying to contain Edey.
Purdue, with nine different players scoring in the first half, went on a 14-4 run in the next 4:44 after the fouls, and the Boilermakers built a 16-point lead that they’d largely hold onto. Reese kept Maryland in it with seven points in about the last six minutes.
But the Terps wouldn’t quite let Purdue pull away in the second half as a 7-0 run to begin the period cut the Boilermakers’ lead to just seven.
The two teams exchanged scores before Young claimed a loose ball off a Purdue shot and launched a pass down the court to a streaking Hakim Hart for an easy score and a foul.
“We got some fastbreak points in the second-half and [we were] able to set our defense up and we’re a different team when we can do that,” Willard said.
Reese slammed the ball down on the next possession to bring Maryland within five as the Terps hung around. Edey continued to make his presence known with points on Purdue’s next three scoring possessions, but the game remained a fierce competition.
Hart and Reese both picked up their fourth fouls of the game down the stretch, putting them at substantial risk of fouling out and making Maryland’s comeback effort difficult. The pair remained in and Reese hit a crucial turnaround jumper with just under four minutes to make it a one-possession game.
Both teams went quiet after Reese’s make as the Terps and Boilermakers could only trade free throws as the seconds ticked down after going a combined 0-for-15 from the field, culminating in Young’s miss at the buzzer.
Maryland remained winless on the road in conference play as its last-minute comeback attempt fell short.
“We found a way to fight back. That’s what I’m seeing with this basketball team,” Willard said. “They’re kind of getting back to what we were early in the season with our fight and with our intensity on the defensive end.”