Love drove Maryland’s seniors to their families as cameras flashed, plastic-wrapped flowers crinkled and careers potentially found their Xfinity Center conclusions.

The Terps played Sunday’s game like the ideal powerful home finale that most seniors could only wish for. With seconds left, fans stood as seniors and other players alike waded in the energy of a critical conference victory.

Behind exceptional accuracy from range, Maryland men’s basketball (20-9, 11-7 Big Ten) downed No. 21 Northwestern (20-9, 11-7 Big Ten) on Sunday at Xfinity Center, 75-59.

All five of Maryland’s starters scored in the double-digits as the Terps finished 10-0 at home against conference foes and 16-1 overall. On a day where seniors in Maryland’s starting lineup alone combined for 52 points, emotions ran high.

But coach Kevin Willard just hoped he and his team had fun.

“I never have fun on senior night, I’m an emotional wreck,” Willard said. “That goes off onto my players so the only thing I told them is [that] I just wanted to have fun today.”

Jahmir Young, Donta Scott, Hakim Hart, Don Carey, and Pat Emilien were honored as seniors. Young, Scott, and Hart could potentially return using an extra season of eligibility due to COVID-19.

Maryland could leave little energy for nostalgia and reflection in the background of senior day against one of the top teams in the Big Ten. Northwestern and dynamic scorer Boo Buie had an opportunity to knock the Terps down the conference standings in a tight race for a top spot.

The Terps and Wildcats wasted little time turning Sunday’s showdown into a dogfight.

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A quick steal from Northwestern on the Wildcats’ first defensive possession resulted in an easy score on the other end before Julian Reese responded with a contested layup in the paint.

Maryland scored early and often to make up for deficiencies in covering Wildcats guard Chase Audige, who had 14 points in the first half. Buie racked up all seven of Northwestern’s assists in the meantime.

“We weren’t trapping as much in the press but we wanted to get the ball out of [Buie’s] hands early,” Willard said. “They run so many dribble hand-offs, we took away the dribble hand-offs and he’s so good at them, he’s so good at turning the corner going to his right.”

But the Terps’ three-point shooting, an element that has been inconsistent for Maryland this season, shined. Willard’s squad landed their deep shots in a variety of ways, finishing the first half shooting 8-for-11 from behind the arc.

Young made his performance hard to ignore. The Upper Marlboro native created a highlight reel of a first half for the Terps.

Along with leading Maryland from three with a 4-for-6 mark in an early offensive explosion, Young also utilized other parts of his offensive skill set. The guard cut behind a wayward defender, received a decisive pass from Emilien and uncorked a rim-bending slam to give the Terps a three-point advantage near the end of the first half.

Young’s inspired play hardly ended there. With seconds left in the first half, the point guard grabbed the ball off the inbound, sized up a defender, and jumped up for a deep step-back three as the buzzer sounded.

The senior drilled it and hustled to the locker room having recaptured the lead for the Terps at the break, giving them a narrow 41-39 advantage. He finished the game with 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting.

[Ian Martinez has found his role as Maryland men’s basketball’s spark plug]

“The play wasn’t for me, [Northwestern] did a really good job of taking care of our action,” Young said. “I saw three seconds left so I just had to create space and I was feeling it from three early on so I just had to get a shot off.”

Neither the Terps nor the Wildcats had expended their offensive energy with the second half feeling like an even sequel to an 80-point first period. Northwestern continued rolling with Maryland’s excellent three-point stroke until an Ian Martinez three extended Maryland’s lead to nine, the largest advantage held by either team to that point, with less than 15 minutes to go.

Energy built in the Xfinity Center. The Terps continued building their lead with the help of a Carey three and contributions in the paint from Scott, Young, and Emilien.

Martinez added another pair of triples as he and Carey combined to go 7-for-10 from deep. Willard squad continued its sharp shooting in the second half and notched a season-high 14 makes on just 22 attempts.

“[Senior day] is really a bittersweet feeling to be honest,” Carey said. “It’s definitely something special … we got one of the best crowds in the country.”

With a firm lead established, Maryland shifted energy to its defense, flustering the Wildcats in the last 10 minutes as they struggled to catch up. The Wildcats scored just 20 points in the final 20 minutes as the Terps triumphed on senior day, earning a vital jump in the conference standings with the victory.

Maryland’s win over Northwestern clinched a share of the Big Ten regular season title for Purdue, but the Terps are now tied with two other teams for second place in the conference with just over a week to go in the regular season.