Xfinity Center went lifeless as Maryland trailed by 11 points with just over four minutes to go — with how poor the Terps’ offense had been all night, it felt like a gap too far to overcome.

But Maryland scored eight unanswered to cut the gap to three with just more than two minutes left, and a comeback that looked nearly impossible became well within reach. The Terps never got closer, though.

Maryland couldn’t complete the comeback and fell to Northwestern, 68-61. It was the Terps’ sixth loss in their last eight games and came against a Wildcats squad that was missing two of their starting guards.

Maryland fell to 7-11 in Big Ten play to remain in the bottom four of the conference standings. If that holds, the Terps wouldn’t earn a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament. The Wildcats swept the season series with their second-ever win at Xfinity.

The Terps shot 2-for-22 from three and 21-for-54 from the field in the loss.
“I thought we got some good open looks early,” Maryland coach Kevin Willard said. “[It] happened with us against Rutgers and against Michigan State, we missed some good looks and it kind of just affected us the rest of the game.” 

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Maryland got off to yet another slow start, making just two of its first 12 field goals with more than eight minutes between its second and third make.

The Terps managed to stay in it, though, as their third basket gave them a 12-10 lead. Northwestern took a six-point lead a few minutes later after going on a 7-0 run — which all came from the free-throw line.

Six of those seven came from Nick Martinelli, who led Northwestern with 27 points and went 9-for-10 from the line Wednesday.

“We didn’t have an answer for Martinelli,” Willard said. “I thought he was really good”

The teams combined to attempt 32 free throws in the opening half as four Maryland players entered the break with at least two fouls. A total of 23 fouls were called in the opening 20 minutes between the two teams.

More than half of the Terps’ points in the first came from the line. They shot less than 20 percent from the field and were just 1-for-14 from three. They made five field goals in the opening half.

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Maryland trailed, 29-24, after 20 minutes. Despite an atrocious offensive performance from the Terps, a similarly bad showing from the Wildcats kept the game close entering the second half.

Jahmir Young led Maryland with 11 points — nine of which came from the line — while DeShawn Harris-Smith added seven, shooting 3-for-6 from the field in the first frame.

Young shot 5-for-8 in the second half to finish with 24 points and added six assists. Harris-Smith ended the night with 14 points, the second-highest tally of his career.

Maryland trailed by eight, which was its largest deficit of the day before Young made the Terps’ second three of the game about six minutes into the second half. But the momentum was short-lived, as Julian Reese picked up his fourth foul of the contest during Maryland’s next possession.

The Terps cut the lead to two even with Reese’s absence, but the Wildcats scored seven unanswered to grab their largest lead of the night. It reached 11 shortly after.

Maryland surged back to within one possession of Northwestern but couldn’t overcome the double-digit deficit as it dropped its fifth game at home this season.

“I didn’t like much about anything to be honest with you,” Willard said.